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Declawing

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Welcoming a new cat companion to your household can be exciting but what happens when their instinct to scratch takes over? It is unfortunate to lose your curtains, couch or any other important household item to scratching behavior and it might seem easier for your cat to have their claws removed in a surgical procedure of declawing. However, there are many risks to this and it should be taken into serious consideration before putting them through the surgery.

What exactly is declawing your cat? It is not just removing the nail. To compare the surgery to humans’ hands, it is like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle. Following surgery, they can experience days of discomfort and pain. There is potential of infection, lameness and back pain. It can change the way they walk, cause nerve damage and bone spurs. Also, because claws are their first line of defense, lack of claws can cause them to become biters as their defense when feeling threatened.

Scratching helps relieve stress, stretch their muscles and remove the outer sheath of their claws. It is a healthy, normal behavior. There are outlets and options for your cat, a scratching post or even multiple posts can be purchased, cardboard scratching box and regular nail trims. Soft paws which are painless, vinyl caps that fit over your cat’s claws without harming them. They come in different sizes and colors and one application can last up to six weeks. Soft paws don’t affect nail extension or retraction, helps protect people from being scratched and costs around ten to fifteen dollars. When considering declawing your cat, put your pet’s health first.

Citations:

Pamphlets
1. The truth about declawing
2. Soft Paws Nail Caps for Cats
Christianne Schelling, DVM
www.softpaws.com
www.declawing.com
Soft Paws, Inc
Distributed by SmartPractice 2011

Flea & Tick Prevention

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If you live in Idaho, fleas and ticks are going to become more present with the weather warming up. This means, as pet owners, it’s time to start your preventive measures for your dogs and cats to keep them safe from the diseases these insects spread. Some pet owners choose to do year-round treatment, but some stop during winter months since most fleas and ticks won’t survive. It is recommended to do year-round prevention just to be cautious because it is easier to prevent than it is to treat tick borne-diseases or flea infestations.
Ticks transmit not only Lyme disease, but also other illnesses like babesiosis (a malaria-like disease), ehrlichiosis (a bacterial infection), and even tick paralysis. There are more than 200 species of fleas affecting dogs, and these can also transmit disease. Although at this time North Idaho isn’t seeing many cases of disease from ticks and fleas, they will likely be more common in our area in the years to come.

Fleas are parasites that survive by ingesting the blood of hosts like cats, dogs, and humans. The head is surrounded by sharp spikes and mouths can pierce through a host’s skin and suck their blood. Fleas cause discomfort, constant scratching and flea allergy dermatitis. Fleas do not live their entire life cycle on an animal, so, once established, a flea infestation can take months to resolve.
You can find flea and tick prevention at your veterinarian’s office with a prescription, local pet store or online store. There are multiple options: topical products, chewable tabs or collars. These range in treatment length from one month up to eight months. You can decide what option works best for your pet and your lifestyle.

Citations:

(What’s Your State’s Flea-and-Tick Season? – American Kennel Club. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/whats-your-states-flea-and-tick-season/)

Hot Temperatures & The Danger to Your Pets

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The warmer months are here and traveling with our pets can be dangerous when we leave them in the car to run a quick errand. During these hot temperatures, the temperature in a car can rise almost 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. This includes even having the windows open.

Heat exhaustion can occur within a car as soon as outside temperatures rise to 83 degrees causing heat stroke or brain damage which can be fatal. Signs include panting, drooling, vomiting, weakness and seizures.

When deciding to take your dog on an errand, opt not to if they must stay in the car while you do so. Leave them at home. Keep them safe from excessive heat. Also consider the temperature when exercising your dogs. If you choose to take them outside for a walk or run, this should be done in the early mornings or in the evenings if it has cooled off enough. Pavement can reach scolding temperatures for their paw pads and cause damage and open sores that are painful within minutes. If the pavement is too hot for your palm or bare foot, it is too hot for your pet!

If your pet experiences heat stroke you will need to get them to the veterinarian immediately. Brachiocephalic breeds (dogs with short muzzles such as bulldogs, boxers, pugs, etc.) are most at risk. Shade rarely gives any more relief than if they are parked in the sun. Temperatures still rise quickly.

If you witness a dog in a hot car there are steps you can take to help the pet. Write down the car’s information, alert the management of the store so they can make an announcement, call the police or animal control, stay and monitor the pet until help arrives. Although Idaho law does not make it illegal to leave your dog in a hot car, there are laws against animal abuse, neglect and cruelty.

Citations:

https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/pets-in-vehicles.aspx
https://www.oregonhumane.org/wp-content/uploads/18_heat_infographic.jpg

Pet Dentals

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Pet owners are often unaware of the importance of dental care for their pets. Dog and cat teeth are very similar to human teeth in the care that they require and a lack of proper tooth care can lead to dental disease.

If you observe bad breath, tartar covered teeth, broken or loose teeth, swelling or bleeding gums, oral pain, and loss of appetite or drooling, it is time for an exam. These are the signs that your pet has dental disease. If your veterinarian diagnoses dental disease in your pet, a cleaning and more thorough exam will need to be done under anesthesia.

Before an anesthetic procedure, your pet will have a catheter placed into their arm for delivering drugs, IV fluids and to have quick access to their vein for the highest safety measures. While under, the dental technician will scale, clean, polish and complete full mouth radiographs to make sure anything not seen on exam can be noted and taken care of. The veterinarian checks the health of every tooth, and performs extractions if needed. In cases of severe disease, a second procedure may be needed. This procedure is similar to what our dentists would do at our own annual appointment.

Once the procedure is complete is it important to keep up with the oral health of your pet to prevent further concerns. Dental chews or toys, bones, and brushing their teeth daily can all help with keeping tartar build up to a minimum and gingivitis at bay. Oral health is important and can help your pet live a happier life. Consult with your veterinarian if you have further questions.