Are your pet’s safe? The often unseen suburban threat

Are your pets safe?

Lately we have seen an alarming increase in attacks on pets by coyotes. Coyotes have become prevalent throughout the United States. Even clients living in some of the nicest neighborhoods have had encounters with these opportunistic predators.
Cats that go outdoors are at high risk for becoming a meal for hungry coyotes. Coyotes are especially active from dusk to dawn but may show up at any time. Recently one of our clients was standing in their front yard when a coyote appeared, grabbed their cat and began to shake it. Thankfully when she screamed, the coyote dropped the cat allowing it to escape. If the client had not been standing there, the coyote would have had a meal and a beloved pet would have been lost. Every time I see a “lost cat” poster, I feel sad knowing that they will likely never see their cat again. Generally, we feel like cats should stay indoors. There are too many risks for injury when they go out, not to mention fleas, parasites, and infectious diseases.

It appears that coyotes are losing some of their natural fear of people and will come very close if they think they can get something to eat. One of our clients had her small dog taken by a coyote right at at her feet. Fenced backyards are not completely safe. One of our patients was attacked in their own backyard surrounded by a six foot fence. Luckily the coyote dropped the small dog when our client screamed. You should stay with your small dogs when they’re outside, especially at night.
In addition to this threat, coyotes are also known as a source of disease. Rabies, Heartworms, intestinal worms, Leptospirosis and Distemper are just a few of the diseases they can transmit.

What can be done?
1. Consider carrying an air horn or “bear spray” to fend off a possible coyote attack when you are outside with your pet.
2. Keep your pets up to date on vaccination. Dogs are especially at risk since they do go outside and coyotes are so similar in their physiology and the diseases they carry.
3. Keep your pet on a broad spectrum parasite prevention. Revolution and Trifexis for dogs and Revolution for cats provide the best coverage for internal and external parasites.

Please call us at (949) 464-1000 if you have any other questions, concerns or suggestions on keeping our pets safe from this prevalent threat.

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Most Common Holiday Dangers for Pets

As we enter into another holiday season, there are many things we need to be aware of to keep our pets safe. The holidays create lots of changes in a pet’s environment that could lead to potential dangers. We need to take special care during the holidays to keep our pets safe and our holidays happy! There are many potential concerns, but today I’ll focus on a few of the most common holiday dangers we see causing cases to come into our office.

Chocolate is probably the most well known toxin to dogs. Most people know not to give their dog chocolate intentionally but most ingestion occurs when the owners aren’t watching! I’ve seen cases where the client left their dog in the car for just a minute while they ran into a store only to find the pound of fudge for that night’s holiday party was missing upon their return. It seems festive to leave brightly wrapped chocolates out on a coffee table but you shouldn’t be surprised to come home and find the bowl empty. Please be aware that the baker’s chocolate that is especially common around the holidays is considered to be the most toxic to your dogs. Baker’s chocolate contains the highest level of theobromine, the toxic agent within all chocolates.

Recent research has found that an equally common but much less conspicuous danger lurks in your kitchen. It’s been discovered recently that bread dough is a potential toxin to our pets. We haven’t seen too many cases but you don’t want to be one of the first! The toxicity of bread dough is dose dependent on the amount of dough ingested but I would never risk it and offer my dogs bread dough. The yeast used in dough can form high levels of ethanol inside dogs which can be potentially fatal if enough is consumed.

Holiday plants such as poinsettia, mistletoe, and holly all have varying levels of toxicity for both cats and dogs. These plants can cause everything from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures and even death based on the amount of plant material ingested or chewed on by your pets. Play it safe and try and keep these plants out of reach from curious pets!

The sparkling lights and smells of christmas trees are particularly fascinating to pets. All of the new colors and smells are sometimes too much to resist. The water for the tree can be potentially toxic even though the additives made for the water are usually pet safe. Fertilizers, bacteria and even the resin from the tree may make your pet sick. Always cover the water for the tree with a sturdy tree skirt. Ornaments can be dangerous with the metal hooks and many are made of glass. Tinsel can cause intestinal obstruction and there is a risk of electrical shock from the lights. We’ve had several trees knocked or pulled over by curious pets, consider wiring your tree to the wall to prevent your pet from tugging on the tree and pulling it over on themselves. Remember too, your pets toys can be dangerous if they’re able to chew them into pieces that might be swallowed and cause intestinal obstruction.

Finally, resist the urge to allow your pets to indulge in the family’s holiday feast. Do not give your pets food from the family table. We commonly see cases of vomiting or diarrhea after a holiday. Sometimes it is “just” gastroenteritis with inflammation of the stomach and intestines, but sometimes it may lead to pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a potentially life threatening inflammation of the pancreas usually induced by a high fat meal (ie stuffing!). Treatment requires hospitalization with intensive fluid and antibiotic treatment. Most cases will have to stay at least 3-5 days in the hospital. Having pancreatitis once sensitizes your pet to recurrence anytime they have a high fat intake. However there’s an even larger risk lurking from ingesting fatty foods, some pets will develop diabetes after pancreatitis if the areas of the pancreas that produce insulin are damaged. Clearly there is just way too much at risk for that momentary pleasure of slipping our pets some goodies under the table.

The holidays are a special time for us and our pets. They are such a big part of our lives and our memories. If you have any questions about how to ensure your holidays are safe and happy for you and your pets feel free to talk to any of the staff at OCAMC at (949) 464-1000. It only takes a little time and effort to ensure that our pets are safe and the holidays are healthy and happy times!

Happy Holidays from all of us at OCAMC!

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HELP! My dog has separation anxiety!

Is this what happens when you leave the house?

Does your dog whine, cry, bark or become destructive when you leave the house? He may be coping with anxiety as a result of being separated from you. This is a very common problem many pet owners are faced with. Separation anxiety can be a frustrating and costly problem. It is usually more than just “my pet misses me when I’m gone” and usually involves some sort of destructive behavior when you leave. There have been several medications approved for the use in separation anxiety in dogs most commonly Clomicalm and Reconcile. These are usually used as a last resort and must be used in combination with behavioral modification to be successful. Trainers may be able to help work with you and your pet to ease the anxiety around you leaving your pet but it is important to recognize separation anxiety is a behavioral issue and won’t be addressed in basic obedience” training. There are more specialized animal behaviorists that make house calls and this can be a good option to address the problem as well. Bellow is a method I recommend trying to begin working on a pet’s separation anxiety. It involves desensitizing your pet to your habits around leaving and returning the home to ease the pet’s fears of being alone and prevent destructive behavior.

Before Leaving

  • Pay no attention to your dog for 10 to 30 minutes before going out. When you do leave, make it low-key, without elaborate good-byes. Just walk out the door.
  • Leave a special toy or treat to distract your dog when you go out, and remove the item upon your return. Make it something special, like a food-filled treat (something like a Kong toy), so that your leaving is associated with something positive. The treat should also occupy your dog during those critical first moments after your departure.

When Returning

 

  • Ignore your dog until he or she is quiet and relaxed. You may not realize it, but even eye contact can be rewarding to a dog seeking attention. Interact with your dog only when he or she is quiet, thus rewarding his calm behavior.
  • Do not reprimand your dog for destructive behavior or for urinating or defecating in your house. No matter what you find when you get home, remember that your dog could not control himself when you were away. Punishment will not help — it will only add to your dog’s anxiety.

At Home

  • Interact with your dog only at your initiative and when the dog is relaxed. Again, show your dog that you like to play with him when he’s calm and relaxed. To promote independence, avoid constant physical contact with your dog. Encourage him to lie down near you, but not in contact with you.
  • Teach your dog to stay calm as you move away, gradually increasing your time and distance away. Teach your dog to be alone, little by little. Have him or her sit or lie down and stay in place as you back away, praising the dog’s calm behavior. Gradually increasing your time and distance away helps your dog become more independent, and enables him or her to adapt to being alone.
  • Certain cues tell your dog that you are getting ready to leave. When your dog sees this, panic sets in. Put your coat on or play with your keys at times other than departure. This technique will help your dog become indifferent to those cues.

Dogs are very aware of our emotions and will often reflect them. It is very important that you not let your anxiety be perceived by your dog and remain calm during the process.

As always, consult your veterinarian who can be a great resource of information and prescribe medication if needed.

 

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Amazing Animals: Leao

A series of terrible floods and subsequent landslides rocked cities around Rio de Janiero in January 2011. An estimated 1,700 people lost their life. “Leao”, the sweet dog in the picture above, lost her owner in the disaster. She sat by the grave of her owner for the second consecutive day. This powerful picture shows the bonds we have with our animals continue on even after we’ve passed.

 

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Does My Pet have allergies?!

Springtime is in full swing and many of us are feeling the familiar running nose, itchy eyes and sinus congestion as nature provides us with all the color and new growth. Sometimes pet owners are surprised to find out that their dog or cat can have allergies as well. Pets can be allergic to a broad range of allergens including airborne, contact, food allergies, and last but not least, flea allergy. This article deals with the more typical, Springtime allergies but it is important to identify all potential allergies. We will discuss those allergies in future articles. The airborne allergies don’t always present in the same way that we might show ours, but here are some signs to watch for.

If a dog has an allergic response to the airborne allergens, there are some key features we look for. The history can be very helpful in that many airborne allergens tend to have seasonal patterns such as Spring and Fall. The most common complaint associated with allergies in dogs is itching which may present itself with scratching, biting at themselves or licking areas persistently. There are a few areas which seem to be affected more often and would include ear itching, face rubbing and foot licking. These signs are not the only areas that may be affected and other allergies can have similar signs. This is why the history can be so helpful if someone says that their pet only has these signs in the Spring or if they notice that they are noticeably more itchy after going outside. Some dogs will show some respiratory signs with their allergies and might include runny eyes and nose, sneezing and the dreaded “reverse sneeze”! It is important to relate all of the history to your veterinarian as certain medications have more effect on itching versus respiratory signs. The treatments can be very similar to what may be used in people that help control the signs your pet is showing. They can range from antihistimines and cortisone type compounds to special baths and topical treatments. Sometimes more severe cases have to be referred to a specialist that can do skin testing to identify allergens and develop an allergy injection to be given at home. Each case can present a little differently so there is no one size fits all treatment. The important thing is to recognize that the signs your pet is showing may be allergies and to take them to your veterinarian to have them examined and discuss the options for treatment.

Cats that have airborne or inhalant allergies will usually present in a much different way than a dog with allergies. The history can be helpful if it has been more of a seasonal problem. Cats will rarely scratch at themselves as a dog will but licking or excess grooming is the most common sign. I have had clients swear that their cat was not itching but complained about the amount of grooming they were doing and more frequent occurrence of hairballs being thrown up around the house! Cats will sometimes groom themselves to the point of removing large areas of hair and will almost look like they’ve been shaved. Cats can also develop small crusty bumps, usually around their neck, rump or abdomen. The term for this is called “Miliary dermatitis” because it can look like little seeds on the skin. Cats are also very sensitive to flea bites and may have food allergies as well. Once again, it is important to get a thorough history and complete physical exam.

Spring is a great time of year that reminds us of the beauty and wonder of nature. Make sure you pet enjoys this time of year as well by being aware of their comfort and condition. Make an effort to see your veterinarian if you think your pet is suffering with some allergic signs. You will both be glad you did!

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Dr. Bondurant’s Pet Dental Health Tips

 

The pictures above are from an actual client who thought their pet’s teeth “really weren’t that bad”, that is until seeing the before and after pictures. It’s hard to believe the concept of caring for your pet’s teeth is something relatively new to the pet owning public. Many clients will say, “Why does my pet have a problem with its teeth. I’ve owned dogs or cats all my life and never had a problem before.” There are many potential factors possible that might relate to that kind of statement. Recent studies have shown that most pet owners are not aware of potential problems with their pets’ mouths or do not follow their veterinarian’s recommendations for dental health.

First, veterinarians have recently (in the past 25 years) started to realize the importance of good dental hygiene in the overall health of a pet. Severe dental disease can cause bacteria to be introduced into the body to cause infections internally on heart valves, in the liver and within the kidneys. The periodontal disease creates pain and infection in the mouth and can lead to weight loss with difficulty or inability for the pet to chew its food. A clean, healthy mouth allows a pet to thrive and live a better quality of life much longer than a pet whose mouth is severely infected and neglected.

Secondly, the diet and lifestyle of pets has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. Previously, a dog or cat lived most of its life outdoors and would chew on sticks or bones and might even catch and eat small animals. Today, most pets live a very comfortable, indoor lifestyle with only leash walks or trips to the dog park to occasionally play. The further domestication of our pets has led to more problems with their mouths and they now require more frequent dental care as well as preventive home care to keep their mouths healthy and free of disease.

Lastly, the genetic modification of certain breeds over the years has led to pets with malocclusions or teeth that don’t seem to fit properly in their mouths. Most of the shorter muzzled (brachycephalic) breeds have an underbite of varying degree with their lower jaw protruding beyond their upper jaw. This does not allow the teeth to mesh properly and clean debris off as the pet chews. Smaller breeds seem to have more problems with their mouths as they are less likely to chew on things that would help keep their teeth cleaner.

There are other factors possible that may have led to the need to pay more attention to our pets’ mouths and their dental health. Hopefully this will bring more awareness to have your pet’s mouth checked regularly by your veterinarian so that their teeth can be kept clean and their mouths healthy. Following your vet’s instructions for professional cleaning and homecare will keep your pet’s mouth healthy and strong for a lifetime.

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February is Pet Dental Health Awareness Month!!

In honor of Pet Dental Health Awareness Month we are offering 20% off Cat and Dog dental cleanings when you mention this offer!! Did you know we have a full dental surgical suite and digital dental x-ray capabilities? Check out the pics of our facility below! We use a light sedative during our dental procedures to thoroughly clean your pets teeth while keeping them calm and relaxed! We’ll also be posting an article from Dr. Bondurant about the importance of caring for your pet’s teeth! There will also be before and after photos from real patients in the article so make sure to check it out!!

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Dr. Bondurant’s Ear Advice

Ear issues are common ailments among both cats and dogs. Changes in weather and season often trigger itchy problematic ears. Here’s some advice for ear issues I commonly see:

What most pet owners and many veterinarians overlook is that an ear infection is quite often secondary to another, primary problem. Most often that primary problem is allergic reaction (usually a food allergy or inhalant allergic reaction) that creates inflammation and additional discharge within the ear canal. That environment is a perfect breeding ground for organisms to grow and create the ear infection. Many of these organisms (usually bacteria and/or yeast) live in small numbers within the ear canal normally, but under the conditions that the allergies create, they multiply exponentially.

There are some infections that might develop without the underlying allergic reaction, but are much lower in incidence. One infection many pet owners refer to is ear mites. We do see occasional ear mite infections, but the typical case is a new puppy or kitten, usually from the pet store or shelter. They can transmit to other pets in the family, but usually through immediate contact with each other such as sleeping together.

Treatment of ear infections requires a multi-faceted approach:

1. Identification of the causative agent, whether yeast, bacterial or mites.

Sometimes bacterial culture must be done with resistant infections

2. Cleaning of the discharge that has accumulated within the canal. This

would necessitate proper flushing and irrigating of the canal to remove

discharge deep within the canal and use of an appropriate cleanser

that would liquify the discharge for removal yet not irritate the already

inflamed ear canal.

3. Treatment with the appropriate antibiotic or antifungal medication

4. Treatment or removal of any, underlying, allergic reaction.

This might involve antiinflammatory injections, a food trial, or in

severe cases, a referral to a veterinary dermatologist for allergy

testing and identification of offending allergens.

The first step is to have the ear evaluated by the veterinarian so the appropriate treatments are initiated. Then, ongoing attention to keep the ear clean and prevent discharge from building up that can be a medium for the infections to grow in. If the underlying cause can be identified, the frequency and severity of the ear infections is dramatically reduced.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at DrB@OCAnimalMedicalCenter.com or call (949) 464-1000 to schedule an appointment.

Remember, investing in discovering the underlying issue, rather than just treating the symptoms upfront will save you money and your pet from continual pain and suffering in the long run!

Dr. Bondurant

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Yappy New Year!!

As we ring in 2012 we wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who have made our first few months as a practice so successful and exciting! We’ve loved meeting new friends and clients every day and are so thankful to be apart of such a vibrant and unique community. From the Friends of Laguna Beach Dog Park Annual Brunch and Yappy Hour at the Ritz Carlton Dana Point to investing in a brand new top of the line laser, we’ve had many exciting events and experiences in the short few months we’ve been open! We have some big plans for 2012, and are filled with anticipation and excitement for the year to come!

The city of Laguna Beach is the best home OC AMC could have picked and we look forward to our first full year as members of this amazing city! One of our 2012 resolutions is to keep our blog diligently updated with exciting and informative content! We’ll be bringing you interesting and relevant articles from our very own Dr. Bondurant each month so make sure to check back often!

Thank you again for your loyalty and friendship! We look forward to serving you and your furry family members with the highest quality medicine and service in 2012!

~Dr. Bondurant and the OC Animal Medical Center staff

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