The FDA has been conducting a study to determine if there is a relationship between grain free foods and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. They recently released the names of 16 brands of dog foods that may be linked to this disease.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease in which the heart becomes weak and loses its ability to contract normally. The heart muscle thins, an...d the efficiency with which the heart can pump blood decreases. This can lead to congestive heart failure and death. DCM generally has a genetic component, affecting larger breed dogs more often than smaller breed dogs. This study is trying to determine if grain free foods, among other diets, can be predisposing dogs to this disease.
The link between grain free foods and DCM is suspected, but has not been proven. Therefore, exercise caution when choosing foods for your dog. If your dog is not already on a grain free food, consider other options before changing diets. If your dog is already on grain free food and doing well, speak with your veterinarian about the best option for your pet. In general, most dogs do not require a grain free food for proper health and nutrition.
This week we will discuss canine pheromone products. Pheromones are a chemical communication between individuals of the same species. The pheromones do not work through their odor. Rather they actually bind proteins that cause emotional or physiologic change in an animal. Endorphins are released that can calm and relax the dog.
There are many synthetic pheromone products. For dogs that can help to calm them. They come in collar form, spray form, and as room diffusers. Pheromones can really help calm dogs during storms, car rides, or vet visits. They don't interact with any other medications as they are not absorbed into the system they are very safe.
Spraying the car, the vet room, a bandana around the neck, etc., or putting a pheromone collar on, can decrease the fear at the vet! It may be worth a try the next time your dog comes to see us.
While food may not always be a motivating factor for our pets, it often is. Food is often used for rewards for training, appropriate behavior, bonding, as well as for nutrition. Pets tend to associate food with good behavior and positive situations.
Yummy treats can go a long way in making the vet visits more acceptable to our pets. We often employ good treats and spray cheese at our clinic to help distract pets during potentially uncomfortable procedures..., and this often works like a charm.
If you know of a treat that your pet particularly enjoys, or if your pet is on a special diet and can only eat certain things, it would be wonderful if you brought food with you to the clinic. We have seen food treats make so many otherwise scary procedures and situations so much more relaxing and enjoyable for our patients.
Today's Fear Free Friday tip involves the dreaded scale! I can't blame dogs or cats who won't readily jump up onto the scale, because, let's face it, it is not fun to be weighed in a room full of people!
This may or may not be the reason that our pets sometimes balk at the scale, but it is mine....
Regardless of the reason, we do see pets who seem to be terrified of the scale! We can try to use innovative ways to make the scale less scary. Treats, toys, or positive reinforcement may be all it takes for some to stand on the scale. Sometimes we can weigh our smaller pets inside their carriers and then deduct the weight of the carrier. Sometimes, we can cover the large scale with something that disguises it, such as a yoga mat or beach towel.
We should try to avoid forcing them up on the scale while they tremor in fear. If we can make the scale a happier place, we have eliminated on fear in the vet office, and we have a better chance of getting an accurate weight.
Location, Location, Location
We do not always know the reason that some pets fear the vet office. We are sure that the reasons vary from pet to pet. For some, it may be where the exam takes place. Some animals fear being up on the high table. Some animals fear being on the floor and having a doctor and technician hovering over them.
We think it's important to take each pet on an individual basis. If you know your pet to be afraid of heights, we are more than happy to do the exam on the floor. If you know your pet prefers seeing you face to face during the exam, we can put your pet up on the table. We have examined pets on the tables, floor, benches, laps, scales, and carriers.
We are more than happy to keep your pet as comfortable as possible during the exam. If you know of your own pet's preference, please let us know. Anything we can do to make your pet more comfortable is a good thing!
Today's tip involves music. It has been said that "music soothes the savage beast." Well, savage or not, it can definitely be calming. Studies have shown that animals (and people) show significant less signs of stress when classical music is being played.
This can be implemented on the way to the clinic and even during the exam. Play classical music in the car or on your phone to calm your pet.
Classical music played at home during storms, construction, fireworks, or other scary events can also be helpful for our stressed pets.
Today's tip is one that can make medicating your own pet at home a little bit easier! We don't want them to be afraid to be treated at home, either.
To pill a pet, it is easiest often to hide the pill in food, if possible. We've heard everything from cheese to peanut butter (NEVER sugar free) to "meatballs" of food, to mini marshmallows, but sometimes a good treat can help the medicine go down. Pill pockets are also commercially available to hide medicatio...ns, and these can be helpful, as well.
To administer eye medication, it can help to spread some cheese or peanut butter on a cleanable wall or refrigerator, just above eye level. As the animal is reaching up to lick, you can often sneak the medicine in.
This trick may also help for ear medication or baths, or even nail trims!
Today's fear free tip involves your kitty's carrier. The most obvious way to carry our cat carrier seems to be to use the handle on top of the carrier. However, this method can be stressful for our feline friends. When carrying with the handle, the carrier tends to swing, and sometimes may even get bumped into your legs, walls and door frames. Imagine what that must look and feel like from your stressed cat's point of view!
Cats feel better when they feel more secure. Therefore, we should try to carry the carriers by cradling them from the bottom. This simple trick can help make the trip a bit less bumpy for our feline friends.
Fear Free is a movement in veterinary medicine that evaluates and promotes the best ways to keep our pets relaxed and happy before, during, and after veterinary visits. Our pets (and their parents) no longer have to dread going to the vet!!!
Dr. West recently became certified in Fear Free practice, and wants to share some tips to help our pets become fear free at home and at the clinic!
Happy visits Rule!
We find that once our pets realize that the vet office means needle pokes, nail clipping, and the dreaded rectal thermometer, that they are not always excited to visit us.
What if the vet office could also mean just treats, pets, and love?
If you're out and about with your pet, consider stopping by the clinic for a happy visit. You can bring a favorite treat or toy, and allow our staff to offer it with some hugs and kisses. Then the pets get to leave!
No needles, weigh ins, nail trims, or thermometers!
Doing this on occasion will make the visits to the vet potentially exciting and relaxing, versus progressively scary. We LOVE happy pets and pet parents
Midwest Veterinary Hospital
30550 Euclid Ave
Wickliffe, Ohio, 44092
Use the map below for directions!
Surgery drop off is between 8:00-8:30 am