Q. My 2 year old pup Cosmo is always scratching himself but he has no fleas or ticks. A worker at my local pet store saw him doing this and said he has a skin allergy and it is usually caused by diet. Can you give me any information on this subject? Cosmo is already on a restricted diet and eats ‘Natural Balance Duck and Sweet Potato’ dry food as he has a sensitive stomach and this agrees with him. Could the few treats he gets cause this skin itching? Debbie
A. Biting and scratching of the skin may be caused by many different factors. If there are no fleas or ticks present, then itchiness may be due to microscopic parasites, fungal and bacterial infections, and/or allergies. T o rule out parasites, a skin scrape can be performed. Fungal and bacterial infections are often characterized by lesions on the skin. These infections can also be secondary to underlying allergies. Dogs and cats can be allergic to the same things as people. Various weeds, pollens, grasses, and even house dust can cause a pet to itch. There is a mite that infests dry food called a storage mite. These mites are microscopic and cannot be seen by the naked eye. They are not harmful unless a pet is allergic to them. They can cause a dog or cat to be very itchy. Dogs and cats manifest their allergies through itchy skin. Rarely do they have runny noses and eyes. With allergies, the skin may become itchy and red, or look perfectly normal. In addition, most ear infections are caused by an allergic response. Foods can also cause allergic responses. Any food substance can be suspect, such as wheat, corn, chicken, rice, etc. If a food allergen is suspected, we feed a hypoallergenic diet such as duck and potato for a 2-3 month period. The treats must also be only duck and potato, as any other food may set off the allergic reaction. We can allergy test for environmental allergens, but not for food. Any chronically itchy pet should be allergy tested. Food allergies can also cause chronic diarrhea and vomiting.
Allergies are complicated, but with testing and good management, they can be controlled.
Ask the vet questions can be submitted by Email.
Ring Ding was a street cat but would much rather be lap cat.
India is shepherd mix puppy that is full of life and would love to have a forever home where she can get lots of love and attention! More ...
We have recently added a Companion Therapy Laser from LifeCure, LLC to our clinic. Laser therapy is a drug-free, surgery-free and pain-free alternative treatment that can provide relief for many common pet ailments.
Below are just a few of the disorders that respond well to laser therapy:
For more information about this new treatment option, please contact us.
Click below to see the many ailments that laser therapy can help with.
For those of you looking for affordable Holiday gifts for your pets, check out Pet Edge. They have great deals!
We lost some special friends in October and November; we will miss them all.
Maxine Braun, Trouble Murray, Tigre Bustard, Baby Blue Concannon, Harriet Termine, Cookie Goldman, Jagger Nolan, Derby Allison, Jake Oldham, Sam Hogan, Max Shirk, Lady Krevitz, Morgan Feldman, Sadie Maisey, Emmie Cohen, Mazel Bonner, Blake Goldman, Daisy Alberque, Mandy Moore, Mommy Cat Callahan, Summer Cleghorn, Harry Williams, Snowball Gaskill, Lola Rooney, Beaumonte Poole, Moe Roussel, Riley Santoro, Liza Becker, Mindy Goodman, Shoshabelle Tax, Jana Boland, Varuca Gregory, Biaggio Evans, Noles Sebold, Samantha Stidham, Grace Newkumet, Rocky Ricci, Cookie Haley, Konrad Hildebrand, Precious Bobrow, Snuggles Paprocky, William Warwick-Canning, Cuddles McInnes, Frankie Storz, Peanut Kurowski, Keoko Webb, Smokey Ball, Dixie Kaiser, Samantha Laumer, Rosie O'Grady, Tyler Moran, Tilly Abel.
The holiday season is upon us and in the hustle and bustle of shopping for family, friends, and your beloved pets, please give some thought to those cats and dogs that are homeless. While shopping for your furry friends, pick up an additional catnip mouse, a soft puppy toy or maybe some extra food that you can drop off at your local shelter or rescue group. Our own Rosemary DiStefano runs Faith's Hope Rescue and would happily accept any small (or large) gifts. She also visits shelters and can distribute food, toys, beds, etc. to others in need. You can drop off your donations for Rosemary at the Clinic. We hope you will enjoy this edition of the newsletter and find it interesting and informative. It includes articles about the joys and not so joyous hazards of the season. Our "Ask the Vet” column makes a debut, so don't forget to send in your questions. We welcome all comments and suggestions on how we can improve our newsletter. Please email us so that we can better entertain and inform you. We also want to thank everyone who voted for Gertrude in the Halloween contest. Although she did not win, she came in a very impressive 4th place! Yay, Gert! Have a very wonderful and safe holiday!
Many years ago – so far back that I almost can’t remember – a little girl (me) asked for a puppy. This little girl didn’t want just any puppy mind you, but a silver toy poodle! Silver toy poodles were the fashion dogs of the times. You see, even back then, I was a designer kind of gal.
On Christmas morning, I came down the steps very excitedly. Much to my young delight, I saw him, front and center, in a blue doggie crate with a BIG RED BOW! I was so excited that my hands were shaking. I reached for the latch and out he came: my “Santa, please wish” had come true. Oh he was so cute – all soft curls and dark eyes. I hugged him to my chest and told him I would love him forever! Now, what to name him? A silver puppy on Christmas? Tinsel, of course! The first thing I did was call my best friend to tell her that I had gotten my puppy. Much to my dismay, she told me that she already knew about him. My new, sweet puppy was kept overnight at her house the day before, so that his arrival would be a surprise to me on Christmas day. Well, I wasn’t the only one surprised. My friend thought that he was a gift for her. You can well imagine her disappointment.
After much fussing over Tinsel, we introduced him to Princie, my first dog, who became his mentor. Tinsel came with us that day to the family Christmas dinner. He was oohhed and aahed over, passed from hand to hand just like a newborn baby and was fed all kinds of things not appropriate for an 8-week-old puppy.
A happy beginning and a happy ending. The “oh my God who brings home a puppy Christmas day; didn’t your parents know better?” mantra was not an issue here. Tinsel lived quite a fine life with us. He went on vacations to grand pop’s house, stayed with my parents when I got married, missed his big brother when he passed away and lived to the ripe old age of seventeen.
So why not get a puppy for Christmas? Well, read on.
Twenty years later, my best friend – the disappointed one above – wanted to recreate the happy time that I experienced, for her kids – and probably herself too. So with my help, because I’m a sucker for kids and dogs, we went looking for a puppy. And what did we bring home? TWO puppies, Lana and Leo, cute little balls of fluff with dark eyes and smiles on their faces. With Christmas still two weeks away, I kept them at my house, kinda’ figuring that I owed it to her.
Yes, there is nothing like the smiles and lights in the eyes of children when they see a puppy under their Christmas tree. The Christmas morning event was wonderful! But the bliss only lasted about 10 days. Then the problems began. Well, not really problems, just normal puppy behavior. You see, my friend had never had a dog of her own. Her husband and she did their best, but soon it was, “Lana pooped on the floor, no it was Leo. Which one chewed my shoes? AAGGHH!!” And so on and so on. The pups grew, and so did the messes they got into. And with two, it was doubly bad. They had a nice dog run out back, and they got to go to the shore, but they did not spend much time in the house as their bathroom and chew habits were less than desirable. They did have each other and that was a plus for them, but their days were spent outside in the pen. They were cared for, fed and loved, yes, but they never became the pets they could have been. Though they lived to a good age, they didn’t get to sleep next to the kids’ beds or beg scraps from the table every night. And they never really got to become friends with the cats (which I’m sure the cats didn’t mind).
So what is the difference in these two stories? Well, Tinsel’s mom was a stay-at-home mom and I was a “dog kid.” Lana and Leo’s parents both worked outside the home and the kids, though they loved them, were not really “doggie kids.” They just wanted a puppy. Their mom wanted to give them a puppy and have them experience the joy and delight that she missed out on when she was a little girl.
The moral of this story is that when you bring a dog or puppy into the house you must think about what goes on after Christmas day. You gotta’ have a plan. Know that getting a pet is a lifetime commitment. Do research about the breed if you want a purebred puppy. Some breeds need lots of exercise while others are OK being couch potatoes. Veterinary care can get expensive if there is a major illness or accident. Some breeds need to be groomed regularly. Puppies need lots of attention during their formative period. Crating a young pup for 8-10 hours during the day without breaks can lead to unwanted behaviors. Be sure your home is the right environment to raise a healthy, well behaved pet and that all family members are on board. This can be a wonderful learning opportunity for a child if done correctly and patiently but don’t expect young children to completely take care of a pet.
The decision to bring a new pet into the home is HUGE; it should not be impulsive. The fantasy of a child’s delight in seeing a puppy under the Christmas tree is seductive. And it can certainly be a wonderful reality with a well thought out, long-term plan.
At this very festive time of year, if you are thinking about a new addition, be smart, do your homework and be honest about your ability to make a long-term commitment. If you don’t, the puppy that is oohhed and aahhed over on Christmas morning may become the house soiling, couch chewing, “I can’t take it anymore” dog of tomorrow. And that can be disastrous for both you and your new puppy.
This is the time of year that we focus on family and friends. Shopping, wrapping, traveling and entertaining are all part of the joy of the holiday season. Along with the hustle and bustle of this season of joy, comes the pressure to find the right gift- the perfect choice for the ones we love. Gifting a loved one with a pet during the holidays is never a perfect choice.
Choosing to welcome a pet into your household and your life is a very personal decision. It should not be a decision that's made by someone else, no matter how well-intentioned they are. Acquiring a new pet is also a lifelong commitment. It should not be a spur-of-the-moment "gift" designed to bring a smile to its recipient. Committing to a pet, whether it be a cute little kitten from the humane society or an adult dog from a rescue or petfinder.com, takes careful planning, budgeting and thoughtful discussion. Pets are a huge responsibility never to be taken lightly.
In addition to the personal aspect of pet ownership and care, there is also the timeliness factor to be considered. Bringing a new animal into a hectic environment can be a recipe for disaster. Sometimes all of the joy of the holidays can be overwhelming. Trying to fit the season into our already tight schedules can be stressful. A new pet takes time and training to be safe, successful and relatively stress-free.
This holiday, instead of jumping into choosing a pet as a gift, consider some of these choices: a gift certificate for a session with a professional dog trainer for the pet that your loved one will adopt in January or February when things settle back to normal, a basket of kitten toys, litter, supplies and food and a voucher for a ride to the shelter to help your friend select the feline of their fancy in the spring when the humane societies are inundated with cats and kittens or a good book about pet selection and puppy rearing (I recommend Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog by Dr. Ian Dunbar) with an envelope containing the required adoption fee for a future selection from your friend's favorite area rescue group. If all of this talk about the serious responsibility of pet ownership is daunting, why not make a donation to your favorite rescue group in honor of your best friend or family pollyanna. That would be a risk-free gift from the heart.
Perfect puppies with red ribbons sitting calmly under the Christmas tree only exist on Hallmark cards. Real holiday puppies are chewing kids' toys and urinating on the carpet during family gatherings because everyone is too preoccupied to be vigilant. This holiday be mindful of the everyday lifelong commitment that is the reality of responsible pet ownership. Remember, it's the thought that counts.
Everyone knows how hard it is to ignore those longing little eyes peering up at you in the hopes of a goodie from your plate, especially during holidays. And while certain treats are entirely appropriate, others can cause serious and even life-threatening medical conditions. Lean meats, fruits, and vegetables are in general fine treats for your furry friend but as we all know any abrupt change or addition to your pet’s diet can cause mild gastrointestinal disturbances. In general, if you feel guilty eating a particular food item, then your pet should probably avoid it too. The major dangers on my list at the holidays are:
1. Chocolate: The holidays are filled with many delicious cookies and candies of the chocolate variety which are perfectly fine for humans to eat. However, dogs can get very sick from chocolate ingestion. Dogs aren’t able to properly digest chocolate so it stays in their system for prolonged periods of time until a dangerous level is reached. Once that level is reached, owners can expect restlessness, muscle tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination, increased heart rate and hyperexcitability.
2. Onion: Everyone indulges at the holiday table eating comfort foods such as stuffing, meatloaf and meatballs. And while we may gain a few pounds over the holidays, these items can be very dangerous to our pets. Ingesting too many onions can cause dogs to develop a dangerous and life threatening anemia. The signs that owners would notice would be pale gums, weakness, lethargy and vomiting
3. Gastroenteritis or “garbage gut:” If the holiday food on the table is great for us to eat, then the food in the trash can will be just as good for Fido to eat. Many dangers can lurk in trash cans: carcasses, fat drippings, and spoiled foods just to name a few. Garbage eating usually leads to GI disturbances which include abdominal pain, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea – not to mention the mess of cleaning up the trash off the floor. So tighten the trash can lids or empty the trash if tempting items are inside.
4. Raisins: Many holiday treats include raisins from cookies to candies to puddings; however, recent studies are showing that these are not fine treats for our pets. The ingestion of too many raisins/grapes may cause an acute renal failure syndrome which can be life threatening. The signs of this illness include a complete lack of urine production, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, increased thirst and abdominal pain.
5. Bubble gum: For many children, stockings are one of the highlights of the holidays, but if a furry friend is around, parents may want to avoid using bubble gum as a stocking stuffer. Bubble gum contains a substance called xylitol which in dogs causes profound low blood sugar. This hypoglycemia can lead to weakness, tremors and even seizures.
If you believe that your pet has ingested any of the above or is showing signs of these toxicities, then immediate veterinary attention should be attained.
Wishing everyone the happiest and healthiest of holiday seasons.
Carrie Hutchinson is an Associate Veterinarian at the Rockledge Veterinary Clinic.
The holidays can be dangerous times for our pets, from the potential ingestion of adornments (plants and ornaments) to the climbing an electrified Christmas tree.
Many of our holiday plants are quite poisonous and toxic to our furry friends. Poinsettia, mistletoe and holly are poisonous to both dogs and cats if ingested. Pine needles falling off of a Christmas tree can become a danger when eaten. The sharp needles can puncture through the intestines and cause a life threatening infection.
Also, dried needles when combined with tree lights are a fire hazard. If your kitty or puppy decides to “nibble on” the wires they may not only get a shock. Normal electrical current in the home can cause severe lung damage and even death. Puppies and kittens are fascinated by ribbon and can cause an intestinal obstruction if ingested. The material can stick to the inside of the intestines and “ribbon” them, causing the intestines to bunch and squeeze together, such as you can do with a drawstring. When the intestines “bunch”, blood supply is cut off and intestinal death ensues. This is life threatening for your pet. Symptoms of an intestinal blockage include severe, persistent vomiting, lethargy, unwillingness to eat, lack of stool production, and sometimes diarrhea.
What to look for: If you notice your pet slobbering, salivating, or shaking his or her head, it could be a sign of ingesting or nibbling on a toxic plant. Breathing troubles may be a symptom of biting on an electrical cord. Persistent vomiting of food/water, lack of stool, and/or diarrhea may indicate an intestinal blockage.
Enjoy your holidays but keep in mind the dangers that can lurk right in the home for your beloved four-legged family members at this festive time. For more information on keeping your pets safe during the holidays, visit the ASPCA’s website.
If you have ANY questions about abnormal symptoms or behavior, DO NOT hesitate to call the office. HAPPY HOLIDAYS and be safe.
Bill Brice is an Associate Veterinarian at the Rockledge Veterinary Clinic.
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