All Hail the Mighty Mutt!

The mutt, or mixed breed dog, is an often overlooked American staple.  They can be just as cute, cuddly, and loving as their purebred counterparts and are every bit as capable.  Some even suggest that their diverse genetics allow them to have a lower incidence of inherited problems and diseases such as cancer, hip dysplasia, allergies, and heart problems.  Recently, the American Kennel Club has even opted to allow mutts to compete in obedience, agility, and rally competitions, proving that mutts can do it all!  Mixed breed dogs often make great family pets as well, deriving a balance of personality and traits from several breeds.  There is no doubt that a mutt can wiggle its way into our hearts every bit as effectively as a pure breed.  Next time you are looking to add a dog to your family, consider “mutt shopping” at your local shelter or rescue.  You may just find the next true love of your life!

The Holiday Foods Naughty List

Happy holiday season to all of our friends, furry and otherwise!  We hope that this is a happy, healthy time of year for you all.  While we love to see all of you, we don’t want your pet to visit us unexpectedly during the holidays, so we are providing you with a list of the top five holiday foods that will land your pet in the hospital.

Top Five Holiday Foods That Can Land Your Pet in the Hospital

  •  Chocolate

It’s the main ingredient in many seasonal treats, and your pets may want to indulge as much as you do.  It is best, however, for our four-legged friends to avoid chocolate in all of its forms.  The offending ingredient is theobromine which is found in the highest concentrations in baking and dark chocolate.  Toxicity is dose dependent, which means that the smaller your critter, the less theobromine it will take to cause problems.  At lower doses, pets will experience jitteriness and vomiting/diarrhea. At higher doses, much more serious effects can occur including increased or irregular heart rate, seizures, or even death.

  • Raisins/grapes

Before you throw a piece of Aunt Louise’s fruitcake to Fido, think twice.  Raisins and grapes can cause irreversible kidney damage in pets.  Some animals seem to be more sensitive than others, and there is no way to know how sensitive yours is until it is too late.

  • Alcohol

Most people would never intentionally give their pet alcohol, however that glass of eggnog on the end table may prove to be too tempting for Rover to avoid.  Alcohol ingestion can lead to low heart rate, hypoglycemia, seizures, even respiratory failure.  Also beware of desserts containing alcohol and raw yeast-containing dough that can produce alcohol as it ferments.

  • Artificial sweeteners

If you have candies or sweets around that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, know that even small amounts can cause a life-threatening decrease in blood sugar and liver failure in dogs.

  • Table scraps

Ingestion of people food, particularly fatty, rich foods can lead to mild to severe digestive upset, sometimes requiring hospitalization.  Some animals may even experience pancreatitis, a sometimes serious inflammation of the pancreas.

Enjoy the holiday with your pets. Just be sure that the only holiday treats they get are pet safe!

Pets Need Dental Care, Too!

Keeping your pet’s teeth pearly white is an important (and oftentimes overlooked) component of responsible pet ownership.  Many pets never receive any dental care at all, but all pets can benefit from a comprehensive dental care plan.  This includes the following components:

  • Annual oral exam

Starting around the age of 1 year, all pets should undergo a complete dental examination to find and address any problems.  By examining your pet’s teeth, gums, and oral cavity thoroughly under general anesthesia we can be sure that we don’t miss anything.

  • Periodic comprehensive dental cleanings

Most of us visit the dentist multiple times per year.  We recommend that pets receive a dental cleaning including ultrasonic tooth scaling, polishing and a fluoride treatment under general anesthesia.  For many pets this needs to be on a yearly basis.   Each pet’s individual needs should be discussed at their yearly examination.

  • Home dental care

This is important as well!  You can help aid your pet’s dental health at home by utilizing prescription dental care diets, recommended toys and treats, and by brushing your pet’s teeth regularly (daily is recommended).  To brush your pet’s teeth use a veterinary or soft toothbrush with an angled head.  Never use human toothpaste but rather an enzymatic veterinary toothpaste.  At first you should start slowly to avoid upsetting your pet- make tooth brushing a positive experience!  If you need help or more information or a demonstration, please let us know.

By providing your pet with the above preventive dental care measures, you are taking an active role in reducing the incidence of dental disease in your best friend and keeping that smile around for years to come.

Catnip and Your Cat

It is an enjoyable (and often hilarious) experience to give your kitty some catnip and watch what happens.  But what is catnip?  Is it safe?  And what is it about it that makes some cats downright batty?

Catnip is an herb (Nepeta cataria) that originated in the Mediterranean but is now found throughout the U.S. and Canada.  The ingredient in catnip that exerts its power over our feline friends is called nepetalactone.  This chemical mimics natural kitty pheromones and can trigger a wide range of behaviors including sniffing, licking, head-shaking, head rubbing, and body rubbing.  The effects last about 5-15 minutes.

All cats respond differently to catnip, with about 30% not seeming to care at all.  While some cats may exhibit extreme behaviors, catnip is non-toxic and there is no reason to worry about your cat being exposed.