Dr. Brent Morris is a 2007 Colorado State University Graduate. He joined the CPH team in 2015.
October 21, 2016
Protection for Cats Outdoors
Do any of your feline friends spend any time outside – prowling the neighborhood, just sunning on the patio, or guarding the barn? To make sure your cat stays healthy, here is some very important information you’ll want to know and discuss with your veterinarian.
Besides the core vaccines your cat receives, Rabies and FeVRCP (“distemper”), cats spending time outside or in close contact with other cats are at risk for being infected by Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Both viruses attack the immune system, causing various medical issues, and are non-curable.
- Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is transmitted through “casual” contact. Nose-to-nose contact, grooming, and shared dishes are the more common ways this virus is transmitted. Young cats seem to be more susceptible to infection than older cats. There is a vaccine for FeLV to help protect your cat from this disease.
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is transmitted through “close” contact. Bite wounds are the main way FIV is transmitted. There is a vaccination available, however it generally is not used because a vaccinated cat will test positive for the virus even if they are free from the disease.
Both FeLV and FIV can cause unique health issues for your pet. Since any positive cat is managed differently than a cat who is free from these diseases, testing is an important part of managing an at-risk cat. Specific recommendations may vary, but in general, testing is recommended for:
- all newly adopted cats and kittens, regardless of their future planned lifestyle
- any new cat/kitten prior to introduction to other cats in your household
- around 3 months after a cat has been in a cat fight or treated for an abscess
- any sick cat, regardless of age, previous negative test results or vaccinations
- prior to vaccination for FeLV or FIV
Kittens are generally dewormed to clear them of intestinal parasites they might have gotten from their mom. However, any cat who spends time outside or hunts, is at risk for reinfection from various intestinal parasites. Some of these include tapeworms, roundworms, hook and whipworms. Besides affecting your pet, your pet could transmit these parasites to you and your family. In people, some to these parasites can cause neurologic disease and blindness
Your veterinarian can help you determine the deworming product and the appropriate frequency for your cat’s lifestyle. For us here, we (and our feline clients) like the product Profender, because it is a topical product vs a pill. We generally recommend starting with deworming every 3 months. However, some of our more avid hunters need to be dewormed monthly during the “hunting season”.
Flea and Tick:
Here in Colorado, these preventions are not a bad idea, especially for cats who spend time near a lot of rabbit burrows and prairie dog towns. The most concerning disease these prevention help protect against in this area is plague.
Presented here was just a brief overview of some of the special needs of a cat who spends time outside. Your veterinarian can help you determine what is best for you and your feline friend.
Additional information can also be found through:
- American Association of Feline Practitioners (catvets.com)
- International Society of Feline Medicine (icatcare.org)
- American Veterinary Medical Association (avma.org – “public resources” tab)
April 15, 2016
Home Dental Care
After realizing the importance of your pet’s oral health during Pet Dental Health Month, your pet may have recently received a professional periodontal therapy (a “dental”) by your veterinarian. With their new “smile”, you have noticed an increased energy from your pet. But your pet’s “minty fresh breath” is what you have been especially enjoying. Are you aware that there are various tools and products available to keep it that way for a longer time? That’s the topic we’ll be discussing today.
You may have noticed that there is an astronomical amount of options available for home dental care for your dog and cat. Some of which are more effective than others. I’ve classified them into four categories below, going from most to least effective:
Toothbrushing: This is by far the best method for slowing the progression of dental disease. This is the only method that can remove plaque and tartar causing bacteria from ALL teeth. Please visit us on Facebook to watch CPH technician Daria demonstrate toothbrushing here. Just remember to start slow since this is new for your pet and you. The tools needed for brushing your pet’s teeth at home are:
- Pet specific flavored toothpaste. This will act as a treat during the process (just don’t get it mixed up with yours. Unless a chicken flavored paste sounds appealing to you).
- Any kind of soft bristled brush will work. Smaller ones are better for small dogs and cats. The rotary type are also great options.
- A minute of your time, every day.
If you start slow, most every pet will be happy to have their teeth brushed. Most will actually want “seconds”.
Foods: There are various specific foods that help slow dental disease. They come in two categories. The first being a ‘scrubbing-type’ diet. These foods are designed to scrub away plaque and tartar from the chewing teeth – like an edible toothbrush. The foods in this category are Hills T/D and Science Diet Oral Care. The second category of dental diets use a specific coating to decrease tartar formation. Examples of these diets include: Royal Canin Dental and ProPlan DH diets. All of the dental diets are formulated and best when used for your pet’s regular daily meals.
Chew Products: Products in this category can mechanically remove plaque and tartar from the chewing surfaces. Some products include additional ingredients that can help “disinfect” the mouth too. Since these products are not given as frequently as feeding, they tend to be a little less effective than the dental diets. There are numerous products in this category – some being more effective than others. Some examples include: OraVet, and Enzyme Rawhide chews, both available at CPH.
Rinses, Gels, Water Additives: The products in this category use various ingredients to help prevent plaque or tartar accumulation. These are more of an oral “disinfectant” and are placed lower on the effectiveness list due to their lack of mechanical removal of plaque and tartar. However, these products can be of great value in the periodontal disease battle, especially to help decrease “doggy/kitty breath”. Your veterinarian can recommend a specific product in this line that is best suited for your pet’s needs.
Even with regular home care, our pet’s will still need regular professional cleanings. By adding one or more of the above home care products, you’ll not only be helping your pet stay as healthy as possible, you’ll also be able to enjoy your pet’s new smile (and breath!) for much longer.
February 1, 2016
Importance of Oral Health
You are not the only one who when taking to their pet to the veterinarian are told their pet needs a “dental” (periodontal therapy). Over 85% of all dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease by the time they are only 3 years old.
Why is this important? On the surface, periodontal disease is one of the main factors causing “doggie breath”. It’s a surprise we let our pets near us sometimes – could you imagine if your significant other never brushed their teeth and never went to the dentist?! That brings the term ‘morning breath’ to a whole new level.
Oral health is important to help avoid periodontal disease. The reason your veterinarian, and your dentist, are concerned, is that periodontal disease is caused by bacteria. It is the overgrowth of bacteria that cause the foul smell. This same bacteria, when left unchecked, can cause some major issues in the mouth.
Periodontal disease starts when the bacteria combine with food particles to form plaque. Within a couple days, the plaque binds with minerals in the saliva to form tartar/calculus. This is the hard, yellow-brown substance that adheres strongly to the tooth. The bacteria is also what causes the redness or inflammation to the gums – known as gingivitis. Over time, the bacteria and inflammation work down the tooth roots, destroying the supporting structures of the tooth. This can be the ligament that holds the tooth or the actual bone surrounding the tooth. With more time, this destructive process spreads to the surrounding teeth. This advanced periodontal disease is a huge factor in tooth loss. Just as important, this process is a source of chronic pain.
In addition to the oral and chronic pain issues caused by periodontal disease, there are some additional whole body effects. The bacteria causing periodontal disease doesn’t just stay in the mouth. Once inflammation (gingivitis) starts, that bacteria has an easy route into the blood stream, where it can travel to and cause issues with the heart, kidneys and liver.
A professional cleaning (periodontal therapy) is the only way to remove the tartar/calculus and to reverse the gingivitis. Regretfully, advanced periodontal disease is not reversible. This is why regular professional cleanings and home care are necessary – and why it’s recommended we visit a dentist two times a year.
No veterinarian likes removing teeth due to advanced periodontal disease, which is why early prevention and treatment are key. Chances are your pet has some form of periodontal disease, so make an appointment with your veterinarian today to discuss what can be done.
January 15, 2016
Snowy Day Activities
It’s getting that time of the year where Old Man Winter can put a hamper on you and your pet’s outdoor activities. Just because it’s too cold, wet or slippery to go outside doesn’t give your pet an excuse not to exercise. The following are some ideas to help prevent cabin fever – for all of us.
Food Dispensing Toys
- These types of toys are great at helping with a lot of potential issues. They increase activity, lengthen meal time to help with satiety (reducing begging), and increase mental stimulation by activating your dog and cat’s natural hunting and scavenging behavior.
- Place all, or a portion, of your pet’s normal meal into the toy.
- Use as your pet’s new “food bowl”.
- Some examples include the Kong Wobbler and the Eggsercizer.
- A quick internet search can give you some ideas on how to make your own too.
- Think of this as an Easter Egg hunt for your dog and cat.
- Place a kibble or two in various location around the house and have your pet find them.
- Don t forget the low calorie options (frozen/fresh green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, plain air popped popcorn).
- Since your cat is probably not the scavenger your dog is, you may want to use only a couple locations. If it’s safe for your cat to jump up/down, don’t forget the vertical places your cat frequents.
- This variation is great for small dogs and cats.
- Using a piece of kibble as a reward, toss or slide it across the room or floor.
- When your pet comes back to you, repeat.
Hide and Seek
- This activity may require at least two people.
- Each person playing will go to a different part of the house or yard and will take turns calling your pet.
- Once your pet finds the person calling them, and gets their reward, the next person calls for them.
- Besides helping with exercise and mental stimulation, it also reinforces some of the basic obedience.
These games don’t have to be done only during the winter. Some of these activities are great additions to your pet’s weight loss plan.
Don’t forget to include your kids. Most love to help hide objects or help play hide-and-seek. Just make sure you are helping to control the amount of food your pet is getting
December 28, 2015
We all know that walks are good for our pets, and ourselves. Did you know that with some adjustments to how and where we walk, we can help increase muscle strength in our pets? The following are some ideas on how to tweak our walks to yield a bigger benefit, especially to our aging, arthritic pets.
To make sure you’re set up for success when initiating a therapeutic exercise program, a few things to keep in mind:
Shorter duration, multiple sessions are better than an extended session
It is generally reasonable to be able to increase the length of activity by 10-15% each week
Consult with your veterinarian to make sure your pet isn’t in pain before starting
- A slow walk encourages the use of all limbs, preventing any non-weight bearing.
- Walking through grass or tall fields can increase strength by providing some resistance. Pets also tend to flex their joints more as they navigate this kind of terrain. Coordination is also improved due to the varying nature of the terrain.
- Sand and snow reduces concussive forces and allows increase strength and coordination due to the resistance and varying nature of the terrain.
- Fast walking increases the challenge for balance and coordination, along with increasing cardiovascular fitness.
- Promotes strengthening of the limbs and core muscles.
- Promotes increase stretching, coordination and balance.
- Since most arthritis and weakness occur in hind limbs, inclines are the best activity to help strengthen these areas.
- Seek out the small, grassy hills in your neighborhood that would be great for this.
- This is a more advanced version of the incline/decline
- Make sure this is done at a pace where the front and back legs are being used independently – no hopping up the stairs (eg. using both hind legs at one time.)
- Make sure its a non-slick surface your pet is on.
Sit to Stand
- This exercise helps strengthen the hips and hind limbs.
- For optimal benefit, make sure your pet is sitting and standing straight/symmetrically, with no leaning to one side or the other.
- These exercises are great to incorporate on your walks.
- Perform multiple repetitions at a time.
- Down to Stand is a variation that focuses more on the front legs vs the hind.
By adding these variations to your daily walks, not only are you promoting physical fitness, your are also making your walks more interesting and mentally stimulating for you and your pet.
December 3, 2015
Osteoarthritis: Waistlines are Key
A common question I hear from clients is, “I think my pet has arthritis doc. What can I give her to help?”
Before we jump into the medicine cabinet, one of the best long term treatments for degenerative joint disease (which includes osteoarthritis) is taking a look at our pet’s weight. Weight optimization is one of the most impactful things we can do for our pets. Even a modest 6-8% loss in weight, significantly improves the signs of osteoarthritis. Helping our pets transition their physique from tubby to toned will greatly improve our pets quality of life. Also, due to the destructive components released by fat, having an optimal weight greatly reduces the risk factors for many other debilitating diseases like diabetes, heart disease and all types of cancers.
Your veterinarian will help you develop the best weight loss plan for you and your pet.
- Before embarking on a weight loss plan your veterinarian may want to have some bloodwork performed on you pet to check for any underlying conditions or diseases that are causing or will affect the plan.
- Calories in will have a much bigger impact than exercise alone. Your veterinarian will likely discuss making sure your pet is getting accurately measured meals. So no more, all day, all you can eat buffets.
- Feeding your pet a “light” or “reduced calorie” pet store diet may not be enough. A transition to a prescription veterinary diet may be what is needed to help shed those pounds in the safest way. What sets a veterinary diet food apart are these foods are often more calorie restricted yet still provide adequate nutrients. They also can have additional ingredients to help loose fat over muscle. Some of these diets also work with nutrigenomics, normalizing your pet’s gene profile through specific ingredients.
- Treats and snacks can be a big contributor to extra daily calories. By adjusting what we give our pets, we can continue to reward them and not worry about their waistlines. Some good options your veterinarian may discuss with you are, frozen/fresh green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower. Plain, air-popped popcorn is another great option.
- Monitoring and adjustments with monthly reweighs and body condition assessments will be another integral part of the plan. How can we sing your praises if we don’t see you?
Remember the old adage, “an ounce of prevention…?”. What a better time to work in some preventive measures than when you have a growing puppy or kitten. By making sure our pets never become tubby in the first place, we can greatly delay or prevent the onset and severity of degenerative joint disease in their future.
- Meal feeding a measured amount will not only help you keep track of the calories your youngster is consuming, but it will also help with house training.
- The same treats and snacks mentioned above may also be recommended by your veterinarian.
- Keep up with the monthly visits after the initial vaccine series is completed. Besides helping prevent portliness, these monthly visits are a great way to make future visits to the veterinary office fun.
If you would like some guidance on telling if your pet is at risk or if you are looking for help in developing a weight loss plan, give us a call. We’d love to help!
November 13, 2015
Osteoarthritis and Our Pets
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a term a lot of us have heard before. As we age, it is a condition that some of us are all too familiar with. Are you aware that our 4-legged companions can also be affected?
As we get better at treating and preventing disease, our patients are living longer. As a result, we are seeing more and more patients with some form of arthritis. Degenerative joint disease (DJD), which includes OA, is one of the most significant and under diagnosed diseases in dogs and cats. Recent studies suggest that 40-92% of all cats have some clinical signs of DJD (1).
DJD is a state of chronic pain and discomfort. Unlike acute pain, like limping from spraining a joint after chasing a rabbit, signs of chronic pain are more subtle. These signs are harder for owners to recognize since they progress more slowly. Anytime I hear an owner attribute their pet’s behavior to, “He’s just getting old,” I often find their pet is suffering from some form of DJD.
Some of the signs of DJD include a lot of what we chalk up to normal aging. Like when a pet is doing less of or having more difficulty with common activities – going up/down stairs, jumping in the car, not playing as long at the dog park, etc. Other signs include: sleeping more, less interaction with family, resisting handling/petting, changes in posture, restlessness, laying in unusual positions, more difficulty finding a comfortable position to lay down, house soiling, taking longer to go to the bathroom, increased matting of the hair coat, etc.
Some of these signs can also be caused by other diseases. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet is suffering from DJD or another condition. If DJD is found in your pet, your veterinarian can discuss with you various options available to get your pet feeling and acting better. These options we’ll also discuss in future posts, so stay tuned!
If you are concerned that your pet may be suffering from early or later stages of DJD, please give us a call today!
(1) Lascelles BDX, Henry JB 3rd, Brown J, et al. Cross-sectional study evaluating the prevalence of radiographic degenerative joint disease in domesticated cats. Vet Surg 2010;39(5):535-44
October 29, 2015
Fall Fitness For Fido
Autumn can be a wonderful time to get outside with your dog. The air is crisp and cool, the leaves put on a spectacular show for your enjoyment, and your dog’s enjoyment as they bound around in them. With each season comes different precautions, so be sure to follow these easy tips to make the best out of this wonderful season.
Ease into high activity
If the hot summer weather had you avoiding regular walks and exercise with your pet, autumn can be the perfect time to get outside. However, due to all that lounging by the pool (or A/C unit) your dog might need some time to get those muscles back up to speed. If that’s the case, start slow and work your way up to those epic 10 mile hikes in the mountains or around town.
Autumn’s cooler weather is an ideal time for mushrooms to grow. Even though virtually all mushrooms are safe for consumption, there’s still that 1% that are toxic and must be avoided. Be on the watch for mushrooms, and be sure to keep them out of your dog’s mouth. If your dog still manages to snag a mouth full of mushrooms, contact your veterinarian or local emergency veterinary office for instructions.
Make sure your dog is dressed for the weather – this may seem like common sense, but it still needs to be said. Many small or short-haired dogs, especially those with single coats, can’t retain enough heat in cool weather. If you think you’ll need a sweater yourself, consider that your four legged friend might need one too.
It’s dark out – be seen
The days are getting shorter and shorter – soon you’ll be walking your dog in the dark. Make sure both you and your dog are visible. There are loads of options available, including reflective collars, leashes and harnesses, and flashlights or light-up products. This means you have permission for some retail therapy!
Watch out for attractive dangers!
‘Tis the season for all of those tasty poisons. Car owners are changing antifreeze in their vehicles, which is highly toxic, so avoid spills you see in parking lots and driveways. Rodents are looking for warm places to spend the winter, so many home-owners are putting out rodenticides to repel them. Ingestion of those poisons can be fatal, so if your dog comes in contact with these, or any similar dangers, be sure to contact your veterinarian or local emergency clinic immediately.
Wether we like it or not, fall is the start of the holiday season. That means more sweets around and more decorations adorning houses, both inside and out. All of which your pet may have greater access to. To avoid a trip to the vet for a costly surgery or hospitalization, make sure those treats and the decorations stay away from those wandering noses and curious pets.
Despite a few risks, autumn can be a beautiful and invigorating time to get outside with your dog, so follow these tips and make the most out of the season – before the really cold weather hits!