Musings From Our Newest Veterinarian - 01/02/2019
Dr. Robin Sturtz
As the newest member of the Crawford family, I’m delighted to have this opportunity to talk a bit about veterinary practice. First, though, I want to thank everyone at Crawford Dog and Cat Hospital: the doctors, the technicians, the assistants, and the staff. They have made me feel welcome and have given me all the support I need. Many thanks!
Although I do love all animals (well, except spiders), I have worked solely with felines
since I graduated from veterinary school in 2004. Cats are an endlessly fascinating species. Their personalities vary from calm and people-oriented to very active and….not so people-oriented.
The science of ethology is the study of animal behavior, especially normal behavior in their typical environment. What we learn about this can help us devise ways to work with them in an “abnormal” environment, such as a hospital or clinic. In addition, we can also rely on medications and nutraceuticals (chemicals that are not drugs but can help with certain behavioral or health problems). We use many supplements, techniques, and sometimes medications, to decrease your cat's stress and make your visit easier. Feel free to call us before your appointment so that we can help make the experience as pleasant as possible for everyone.
We talk a lot about the Human-Animal Bond (HAB, for short). Cave paintings in Lascaux, France, dated to 20,000 years ago, depict animals, not humans. The importance of the animal for food, clothing, and shelter is evident.
The nature of the relationship we have with domestic animals varies quite a bit from family to family, and even country to country. In many places, animals are used for work, or for play, but are never brought into the house. In some countries, what we think of as companion animals are quite rare, and food animals are of far greater importance.
In the US and many other countries, however, pets are considered as family members. We value their companionship, are fascinated by their behaviors, and do everything we can to make them happy and healthy. What they give us in return is love, and actual health benefits. (and hairballs)
Watching fish swim has been known to cause human blood pressure to decrease. People with dementia, such as patients with Alzheimer’s syndrome, can improve their personal hygiene and communication when they get regular visits from a pet – even as little as half an hour, once a week. Children who have communication issues such as speech and language delay can become more interactive when working or playing with animals. A famous example is the interaction between horses and children on the autism spectrum. In many cases, the HAB is so strong that many homeless people who have pets will refuse to go into a shelter because animals are not allowed. Recognition of these facts is crucial in working with people in these situations.
The fact that you bring your animal companion to the veterinarian shows how strong that bond is. We applaud your caring!
I look forward to meeting everyone, furry and otherwise, as we go along. I am in the clinic on Sundays, for our cat only office hours. Stop by to visit, say hello, or to tour our new feline boarding area.
Have a wonderful new year!
Fleas, Ticks, and the FDA. - 11/05/2018
We’ve gotten several calls about the FDA press release last month with respect to oral flea and tick control products and adverse effects.
Considering that here we are, well into November and the temperature is still cracking 60 degrees, well above the active temperature minimum zone for parasite activity, I thought that I would address the issue.
Flea and Tick Diseases
First off, I think it is important to realize that ticks and fleas should be a concern beyond the icky factor that bugs crawling on our pets elicit. These parasites carry diseases. We know that ticks carry Lyme disease which can infect dogs, cats and us. But they also carry Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as well as a host of other diseases. One tick causes an allergy in people (and possibly pets) to red meat. That’s right, one bite and say good bye to slow cooked barbecue next summer. Fleas can carry a host of diseases as well including Bartonella (cat scratch disease) as well as typhus, plague, and tularemia. So the question is not should you use flea and tick control, but rather which product is the safest and most effective.
What We Used to do About Fleas and Ticks
Historically, (going way back to ancient history), we used really toxic products, many banned due to their horrific side effects for pets and people.
These sprays, dips and powders killed fleas and mammals.
I think back with a shudder to the summers that I worked in kennels as a student applying organophosphate dips to dogs.
No fleas on them, and no mosquitoes on me. Hopefully, I’ll have no long term ill effects.
A revolution in flea and tick control came about with the release of Frontline.
The active ingredient is Fipronil to kill adult fleas and ticks paired with a growth inhibitor to prevent the immature fleas from developing into adults.
The product was safe for mammals and when applied once a month prevented fleas and ticks from pestering our pets.
It is actually used in agriculture as well to treat food crops.
It was rapidly followed to market by Advantage and Advantix (dogs only) for topical use to prevent flea and tick infestations in our pets. A host of over the counter products made their way to market, some less effective, many more dangerous.
A few years ago, we started to notice that there was resistance developing in the fleas and ticks and these products were starting to lose their effectiveness.
What We Do Now About Fleas and Ticks
Bayer had the next innovation in external parasite control.
The Seresto collar kills fleas and ticks for up to 8 months.
We have found them to be very safe and effective, for both dogs and cats.
The efficacy is diminished by frequent bathing so we recommend changing the collars every 6 months.
This is the product that I use on Bella.
Many people don’t like the idea of a collar and their cats do not go outdoors.
That does not put them at zero risk for fleas or heartworm, although the chances of picking up a tick is quite low. For these pets we recommend Advantage Multi or Revolution once a month.
This product will safely prevent fleas, heartworm and intestinal parasites.
Combine with the collar for full protection.
We did have a case of feline heartworm this month in a cat that hasn’t been outdoors for over 10 years.
Go figure, mosquitoes can get in the house.
The next round of products to market was for dogs.
Isoxazolines are an oral product that will kill fleas and ticks, some for up to 3 months (although not all ticks and not as well as the monthly products).
These are the products that the FDA released the new warnings about, so let’s talk about that for a bit.
When a new drug is approved, it must go through thorough testing for both safety and efficacy.
Drugs must be shown to be effective, that’s why we picked the two drugs that we prescribe, Simperica and Credelio, both are very effective over the dosage interval of once a month.
As far as safety, new drugs must be given to a group of animals at the label dose, as well as 3x and 5x the label dose, alone and in combination with other commonly administered medications.
All side effects must be reported.
A single dog, under 6 months of age, had transient neurological side effects at 5x the label dose of Simperica.
Therefore, the FDA granted a label for Simperica for dogs over 6 months of age.
Credelio did not report this side effect so was given a label for dogs over 8 weeks of age.
We are currently following the label recommendations.
Puppies under 6 months old get Credelio, over 6 months we are satisfied with the safety and efficacy of Simperica.
We have had no side effects from either medication in our patients.
Furthermore, when I questioned my colleagues, none have reported any side effects in their patients.
However, there must have been some side effects reported to the FDA, because they are working on adding more information to the labels for all drugs in this class.
Keep in mind, that the current package insert already carries this information where applicable.
Furthermore, if you read the entire press release, beyond the sensational headlines that are springing up all over the internet, you will find that the FDA says that “these products continue to be safe and effective for the majority of animals”, adding that it <the FDA> carefully reviewed studies and other data on Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard, and Simparica prior to approval. The agency is asking the manufacturers to change product labeling in order to provide veterinarians and pet owners with the information they need to make treatment decisions for each pet on an individual basis.”
We recognize our clients’ concerns for their pets’ safety and continue to monitor studies as they become available.
Not using flea and tick control is not safe either as insect borne diseases are seriously dangerous to our pets and ourselves.
We are striving to provide a balance so that we can keep our pets and families safe.
International Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day - 08/06/2018
Dr. Sandra Wu
August 22, 2018 is Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day, but “My cat hates going to the vet, she seems fine, why should I bother bringing her?”
We all know how much cats hate to travel, but it is essential to your cat's health to make that annual trip for the physical examination. Here are some major reasons why:
- Cats age faster, even than dogs in the first few years. In the first year, cats become 15 in human years; after the 2nd, they are 24 human years. Every year thereafter they gain another 4 years. A lot of changes can happen over these years. Annual examinations help us to detect changes and provide preventative care.
- Cats are survivors who know how to mask disease and pain until they are so far gone, it makes it difficult for anyone to help them. By bringing them in routinely, we can examine and evaluate them for earlier signs of disease. By detecting diseases earlier, we have a much better chance at helping them.
- They are not just “fluffy.” More than 50% of cats are overweight, which puts them at risk for diabetes, heart, kidney and lung disease. We can help regulate a diet and exercise plan to keep your kitty from becoming a statistic.
- Adult cats have 30 teeth that most owners never brush. And those mouths get gingivitis and cavities that can be so painful, their teeth chatter when we touch them. Let us check out those teeth and make plans to keep them healthy.
So how do I get unwilling “Fluffy” to the office?
- Get a carrier that feels safe - a hard-sided carrier with top and front doors that can have the top removed. Try stuffing your cat into a tiny carrier door and you'll understand why it's nice to have the top hatch through which you can lower her into the carrier. Being able to lift the top off at the office so she can still hide in the towels make her feel safe.
- Leave the carrier out for a week before using it so your cat can get used to the smell. You can place treats in the carrier so he associates good things with it. He may even climb in it to check it out on his own, it makes a nice hidey-hole!
- If your cat is a bit resistant or aggressive about getting into the carrier, we can occasionally provide medicine or recommend products like Feliway to calm him down before coming. Call us for sugggestions.
- And if all else fails and there is no way you're getting your cat to come into the office, we also do housecalls! Call us to set up an appointment for a doctor to make the trip to your cat instead.
Call us to schedule an appointment or request an appointment on line.
We are working on special offers for this event, so stay tuned to Facebook and check your e mail for details.
Cruciate Ligament Injury - 07/11/2018
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Gross and Dangerous: TICKS! - 06/13/2018
If I say tick, most people’s immediate response is something along the lines of eww, or yuck, or gross.
They are truly disgusting, and we have been seeing a lot of them on both dogs and cats in the office this spring.
It appears that although the weatherman cannot predict whether or not it will rain in the next hour accurately, the parasitologists have hit the nail on the head with their prediction of a bad tick season this year. And, unfortunately, the cool, damp spring is not helping matters any.
Most pet owners are worried about Lyme disease and with good reason. The incidence of infection with Borrelia Burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is way up this year in our area. While Lyme Disease is an important problem for dogs and their owners, there are many other tick borne diseases that we need to be concerned about. Different ticks carry different parasites and we have seen spikes in positive tests for Anaplasma and Ehrlichiosis as well as Lyme disease this spring.
Along with emerging diseases spread by ticks, we are seeing changes in the species of ticks that we are seeing in our area.
Lone Star Ticks, named for the single white spot on the back of the bug (not for the state of Texas) are emerging as a problem, especially out east.
They are problematic because many tick preventions are not as effective against this species as one would like. They also spread diseases like Tularemia and Human monocytotrophic ehrlichiosis.
If that’s not bad enough, they also can cause a serious and sometimes lifetime allergic reaction to red meat.
That’s right, as bizarre as it sounds, a protein in the saliva of the Lone Star Tick can cause it’s bite victims to become allergic to all red meat.
A new species of east Asian tick has raised it’s ugly head in New Jersey and we are girding ourselves for it’s appearance on Long Island in the near future.
So, what can we do to keep ourselves and out pets safe?
Stay out of tall grass when possible.
Treat your yards if you are in high tick areas.
Use an effective tick control product.
We recommend Simperica oral chews or Seresto collars for our pets.
Pyrethrin treated clothing for humans.
Ticks need to attach for a period of time to spread disease.
Check your pets and yourselves daily for ticks.
A useful tool is a tape lint roller up and down your pet after it comes in.
Ticks will stick to the tape.
If you find an attached tick, gentle traction with a small tweezer, close to the skin will get the tick to release.
Do not crush it with your fingers.
If you need it identified, put it in a plastic baggie and bring it to your veterinarian.
Have your dog tested regularly for tick borne diseases.
It’s a simple blood test.
We have effective vaccinations against Lyme disease, the most common tick transmitted disease in our area.
If your pet is at risk, vaccination is imperative.
H3N2 Dog Flu and You - 05/11/2018
Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) has been a cause of canine cough in the US since 2003. The original strain of the virus was first seen in racing Greyhound kennels and rapidly spread throughout the country and is now endemic to many states including Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. The original strain of CIV is s subtype of an Influenza A virus, identified by it’s protein receptors as H3N8. It causes a dry hacking cough, similar but more serious than that associated with Bordetella, the bacteria that causes Kennel Cough. It is easily spread through direct contact, nasal aerosols (think coughing and sneezing), and fomites (objects and clothing that has been sneezed or coughed on). Since it was a new virus on the block, all dogs were susceptible to infection, there was no immunity. A vaccine was quickly developed and we were able to control infection in our pet populations. The game changed again in 2015 with the appearance of a new strain of the virus, H3N2 CIV. Unlike human influenza viruses, this was not simply an annual mutation of the virus but an entirely new strain. The H3N8 is still around. Originally appearing in the Midwest, H3N2 has since started to spread. We monitored the spread of the outbreaks (somewhat more severe than the original CIV infections) and since there was no spike in cases in our area, we did not change our vaccine protocols. However, an outbreak of H3N2 CIV has been identified just last week in Brooklyn and so now we are trying to get the word out to dog owners so that they can protect their pets. While flu season in people is winding down, dog flu season is just getting started. That’s because the risk factors increase as the weather gets warmer. We see increased exposure for dogs that go to boarding, day care, dog runs, grooming, social groups, or now, go into Brooklyn and they need to be protected against this virus. What does this mean for your dog? If your pet has any of the above risk factors, we recommend vaccination against both strains of CIV. An initial series of 2 vaccinations is followed by annual boosters. If you are anticiapating a high risk situation (boarding for example) the series should be completed at least 2 weeks prior to potential exposure. If your dog has had the H3N8 vaccine, it just needs the new vaccine. If it has not had a flu vaccine in the past, it will need to be vaccinated against both strains, which can be done at the same time. We will be setting up some clinic times for flu shots so that we can keep the cost down for owners. Patients of ours that have been seen in the past 6 months and have no health issues can just receive the flu shots without and examination or office call fee. If your dog is not a patient of ours, we will perform a courtesy examination during clinic hours to make sure that it is healthy enough to vaccinate before we administer the vaccines. Details for vaccination clinics will be posted on our facebook page so keep an eye out. We will also be reaching out to our clients via text or e mail to let you know when the clinic hours will be available.
The Results Are In! - 04/23/2018
Our April 12th Free Pee Jubilee was a huge success! Thanks to all our clients who had the messy job of catching the urine, our staff for processing all those samples, and Stanley the Sedivue for analyzing all of them. Amidst the dozens of pee jokes all day, Stanley tested 58 samples of urine, which means we learned more about 58 dogs (sorry, nobody managed to collect any cat urine!) that day. By evaluating urine, we can screen for lots of diseases and possibly prevent some life threatening ones. Out of these 58 samples, we found abnormalities in 28 of them! We found 10 urinary tract infections, 10 with crystals, 9 with an abnormal pH. And, except for one known diabetic, all of those dogs were clinically normal; the owners were not expecting to hear anything was wrong with the urine.
This result surprised us as well and confirmed our belief that something as simple as a urine sample can give us so much insight into our pets' health. Since our pets are very good at hiding illness, we all learned that getting that small sample can help us provide better health care for our patients. So the next time we ask you to bring in a sample, please try to get one, it could make a huge difference to your pet!
Dr. Sandra Wu
I Think My Pet Had a Seizure - 03/22/2018
What is a seizure?
Think of the brain as a network of electrical circuits.
When things are going well, electricity flows through the network in an organized fashion and everything works just fine.
During a seizure, the electrical impulses flow in a disorganized, erratic way, causing the central nervous system to go haywire. There are a many underlying problems that can cause a seizure.
Trauma, congenital deformities, toxins, infections, metabolic problems (kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, dehydration), inflammation (encephalitis), or brain tumors can all cause seizures.
When no apparent underlying cause is found, the condition is called epilepsy.
How do I know if my pet is having a seizure?
Seizures can be localized, and signs can vary and can include twitching of the eyelids/lips/body, abnormal leg movements (often can be stiff but can be flaccid), chatter of the teeth, and altered mentation.
Generalized (previously called Grand Mal) seizures result in a loss of consciousness and often incontinence of stool and urine. Animals can have abnormal vocalization during a seizure. Seizures may feel like they last forever, but in reality, they commonly last a few second to minutes. If your pet is having a seizure lasting more than a few minutes, they should immediately be taken to the veterinary emergency clinic for further care and treatment.
What to do during a seizure?
Make sure you stay calm. Seizures can be very scary for both owners and their loving pets. This is not a time to panic but instead be proactive by making sure your pet is in a safe place. You can use towels or pillows to protect or move your pets’ head and also to keep him/her steady without falling off the couch or stairs. During a seizure, owners can lower the lights or cover your pets eyes with a small towel or blanket. The decrease in stimulation can be calming to your pet as they come out of the seizure. If possible, record a video to show your veterinarian.
What NOT to do during a seizure?
While in a disoriented and confused state, your pet can accidently act aggressively and bite. It is important to not pick up or put your hands/face, other family pets or young children near your pet while they are have a seizure. Safety for everyone is the main goal of getting through a seizure successfully.
What to do after a seizure?
After a seizure it is important to continue to monitor your pet. They may have a post seizure phase that can involve them being very sleepy, confused and/or show signs that lead into another seizure. Another task would be to think back and record any triggers or clinical signs that may have occurred before your pet had the seizure. It is also a good idea to record; the date, time, clinical signs, how long the seizure lasted and how many seizures occurred. Lastly, please contact your veterinarian to discuss details/questions and schedule a visit. A complete examination and diagnostic testing will help to determine the cause of the seizures and what the appropriate treatment course is best for your dog or cat.
Dr. Stephanie Waters
Free Pee Jubilee 2018 - 03/09/2018
Free Pee Day!
Why do we want you to bring in your pet's urine? A complete urinalysis (which involves chemical and sediment analyses) can reveal so many diseases and provides an opportunity to prevent more serious illnesses.
The chemical analysis reveals changes in kidney function by looking at the urine's concentration (called the urine specific gravity) and evidence of protein. We may suspect diabetes if glucose or ketones are present. In both dogs and cats, increased drinking and urination can be signs of both kidney failure and diabetes. A urinalysis can differentiate between the two completely different diseases. The pH of the urine can confirm presence of urinary crystals and help us to make nutritional recomeendations. And if bilirubin is present in the urine, we may be concerned with liver disease.
The sediment analysis looks at any microscopic objects in the urine. We may find red and white blood cells when the bladder wall is inflamed. If we also find bacteria, we could diagnosis a urinary tract infection. Crystals in the urine are early detectors for bladder or kidney stones. Urinary tract stones can be life threatening, particularly in male cats and dogs, as they can urinary obstruction and lead to kidney failure. Early detection of crystals helps us make changes to your pet's diet that could avoid painful and dangerous urinary stones (which often require surgery to remove them). Abnormal bladder cells may also be found in the sediment, which may indicate cancer.
With just a teaspoon of urine, we can discover so much about your pet's health. If you bring in a sample of urine on April 12, 2018 we will analyze it at no cost. Just collect a clean sample from your pet that morning and bring it to us Samples should be refrigerated and brought in within 4 hours of collection for the most accurate results. If you'd like to bring a sample from your cat, you can use some Nosorb non-absorbent litter. Stop in after April 1 t pick up urine collection kits for dogs or cats. Or, message us either on Facebook, our Web Page, or from your Petsite account and we'll instruct you on how to collect a sample. Sorry, we can't collect urine for you on the 12th, we anticipate a large volume of testing.
What Is On Your Pet Food Bag? - 02/22/2018
Dr. Sandra Wu
Those confusing pet food labels
We often hear the question “Which food is the best?” Well, there is no best brand, but here are a few tips and myths dispelled that we hope will help you make that decision.
What to look for on the bag's label
Who is AAFCO? AAFCO stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials; they set the nutritional standards for pet food in the US. If the label says “this pet food is formulated to meet AAFCO standards”, the food has been made following standards but a feeding trial has not been done. If the label says “this pet food has undergone AAFCO feeding trials”, then rigorous feeding trials with this pet food have been done to document how well a pet does on the food. Very few pet foods carry the 2nd statement on their labels, but at the very least, the food should carry the first statement.
The food needs to state what life stage for which it provides nutrition. Here are the main statements you may see:
All life stages
The tricky one here is “all life stages”. In order for the food to cover all life stages, it needs to be nutritionally complete for the most demanding life stage, which would be kitten/puppyhood. Therefore, these “all life stages” foods tend to be higher in calories and fat. So if you are feeding your adult pet an “all life stage” food, think twice if he or she is plump! Be sure to buy the correct life stage for your pet.
Organic, natural or holistic? If there is a USDA Certified Organic seal on the bag, the food complies with organic standards (only animal or vegetable fertilizers, no other chemicals). Natural is a legal term meaning it consists of natural ingredients not altered chemically. Holistic is not a legal term and therefore any food can claim to be holistic regardless of ingredients chosen.
By-products are not inferior ingredients. Vitamin E is a by-product of soybeans; flaxseed oil is a by-product of flaxseeds; chicken fat is a by-product; pork, chicken and beef livers are by-products that are even used for human consumption. All these by-products provide quality nutrition in pet foods.
Corn is not a filler. Fillers provide no nutrition. Corn provides a good source of protein, fatty acids, antioxidants, and carbohydrates needed for energy. It is also not a common source of allergies for pets.
So the next time you pick up a bag of pet food, examine that label carefully to ensure your furry friend is eating as healthy as yourself!