Accidents happen – sometimes pets get injured, eat the wrong foods, get bitten, cut, or even have seizures.  But, there are ways you can help on the way to the vet. As Dr. Doug Aspros, Former President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says, “You can’t be over-prepared. Do your thinking and planning when you’re calm – you’ll make better decisions when the emergency happens.”

So here are a few life-saving tips from the AVMA to help stabilize your pet:

  • If you think your pet has a broken bone, gently lay him or her on a flat surface, or use a blanket as a sling to gently transport your pet on the way to the veterinarian.
  • With cuts, press a clean, thick gauze pad over the wound and press on it until the bleeding stops. If bleeding is severe and on the legs, apply a tourniquet (using a rubber band and gauze) between the wound and the body to slow down the blood flow and get your animal to the vet ASAP.
  • For burns, flush immediately with lots of water. If the burn is more severe quickly apply an ice compress.
  • If your pet has been exposed to a toxin, check the label for immediate instructions such as washing its skin with soap and water, or flushing eyes with water.
  • If your pet is having seizures, keep them away from any objects, blanket your pet to keep them warm and call your vet or an emergency vet clinic.
  • For choking, if your pet can still breathe, get them to the vet immediately. Look in their mouth with a flashlight and quickly try to get the object out with a tweezer. If that doesn’t work, place both hands on the side of his or her ribcage and strike the rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand 3 to 4 times while getting to the vet.

What your Pet First Aid Kit should include for home or travel:

  • VetWrap (or a similar bandaging product that clings to itself and molds nicely)
  • A nylon leash, muzzle, pet carrier (depending on animal size) and a pillow case for a cat that might need to be restrained; a small flashlight can also be quite useful

For more life-saving tips from the American Veterinarian Medical Association, log onto www.avma.org/

Pet Talk: Household Toxicities

Although we may be extra-cautious when using household cleaners, automotive products, or pest control products in our homes and gardens, it may come as a surprise that the tasty morsel we just dropped while preparing dinner could endanger our best friend.

Chocolate can be found lying around the majority of households, especially during the holidays. Depending on the size and type of chocolate, it can be very dangerous to your pet’s health if consumed. Make sure that your children are aware of this, as they might think they’re treating Fido by sneaking him a piece of chocolate cake under the dinner table. If your dog does get a hold of some, chocolate is absorbed within about an hour, so you should call your veterinarian immediately.

“Additionally, grapes and raisins can cause renal failure in dogs if eaten,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “The exact cause of this is unknown, and the amount that needs to be consumed in order to be poisonous is unknown as well.”

While the toxicity of many food items may surprise you, the assumption that rat poison will only eliminate rats is a misconception. Rat poison can be lethal to both cats and dogs when ingested. If you have pets in your home, it is best to opt for another pest control method.

One of the most common and dangerous household items that is poisonous to pets is antifreeze. “Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is very toxic to animals,” Barr said. “Toxicity can be treated, but only if treatment is instituted quickly.”

Using plants as décor can often liven up the backyard and even the inside of your home. However, there are many plants that cause health problems if eaten by your pets. Sago palms, for instance, can cause severe liver damage and even death if eaten.

“Lilies also have a strange effect when eaten in cats,” said Barr. “It causes kidney failure that is particularly difficult to treat.”

If your pet does ingests any harmful foods or household items, it is best to play it safe and contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center; they can help you determine if your pet needs to be seen by a doctor and if they consumed a toxic dose. The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital ER is always available to advise on toxic ingestions.

“Always be aware of the dangers of the things your pets have access to.  If they are unsupervised, a safe assumption is that they might eat anything they are in contact with,” said Barr. “Have a discriminatory eye, and try to avoid having those items in your home.”

There is no harm in being extra cautious when dealing with possible toxicities around the house. Be sure to keep these particular items out of your pet’s reach at all times and to call your veterinarian or poison control center immediately if they do come into contact with them.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed online at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

Pet Talk: Traveling With Four-Legged Baggage

With spring break upon us, and summer vacations right around the corner, it’s time to start planning your much-needed getaways. Whichever destination you choose, having your pet by your side makes it even more enjoyable. However, there are some important things to consider before letting your furry family member tag along.

“The first thing you want to do before you go on a big trip with your pet is to go on a short trip with your pet,” said Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “Drive around and make sure that they don’t get too nervous or car sick while they’re in the vehicle.”

If you notice that Fido is an anxious traveler but still need to bring him along, consult your veterinarian about motion sickness medication or tranquilizers to help make the ride more comfortable.

“Anytime that you travel with your pets, make sure that they are up to date on their vaccinations and that you have proof of the vaccination when you travel,” said Stickney, “especially for rabies vaccinations.” This is very important to have in case they get sick, lost, or accidentally bite someone out of fear. Since your pet must be fully vaccinated before traveling to an unknown area, they should be around five months of age or older in order to tag along.

If you’re planning on taking a road trip, remember that you will have to stop frequently and take your pet out for a walk and to use the bathroom. This means you should have a leash and doggy doo bags handy. You’ll also want to bring along a container of water and a bowl for food when they get hungry.

If traveling by air, it is important that you contact the airline ahead of time to see what exactly they require for that pet to fly. “Some require that they be in certain size carriers or that they need to be at the airport for a certain amount of time,” Stickney said. “You need to make sure that you know the details of where they will be traveling inside of the plane and where you will need to pick them up when you land.”

Before traveling anywhere, consult your veterinarian if your pet has any health problems or other special concerns. For instance, dogs that are brachycephalic, or that have “pushed in” faces such as pugs or bulldogs, are extremely sensitive to the heat. You want to be very cautious of this when traveling in the summertime, as they are prone to having heat strokes.

“This is especially true if they are traveling by air, because you don’t know exactly where they will end up,” Stickney said. “You don’t want them to have to be on a hot tarmac for hours, because they can certainly suffer very serious effects from that; these types of pets will want to travel in air-conditioned comfort.”

Keeping these considerations in mind before embarking on your journey, your vacation can be an enjoyable getaway for the whole family, the four-legged members included.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pettalk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

“Spring Ahead” And Be Flood Ready

You may be ready to enjoy more daylight hours after we “Spring ahead” an hour on March 8, but are you ready for the threat of flooding that warmer months can bring?

“With the change of seasons comes the risk of snow melt, heavy rains, and rising waters—we’re all at some level of flood risk,” said Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA Region V administrator.  “It is important we prepare now for the impact floods could have on our homes, our businesses and in our communities.”

Take action with these simple steps to protect what matters before a flood threatens your community:

Your Home

  • Ensure you’re insured. Consider purchasing flood insurance to protect your home against the damage floodwaters can cause. Homeowners’ insurance policies do not typically cover flood losses, and most policies take 30-days to become effective.  Visit FloodSmart.gov for more information.
  • Keep important papers in a safe place. Make copies of critical documents (mortgage papers, deed, passport, bank information, etc.). Keep copies in your home and store originals in a secure place outside the home, such as a bank safe deposit box.
  • Elevate mechanicals off the floor of your basement—such as the water heater, washer, dryer and furnace—to avoid potential water damage.
  • Caulk exterior openings where electrical wires and cables enter your home to keep water from getting inside.
  • Shovel! As temperatures warm, snow melt is a real concern. Shovel snow away from your home and clean your gutters to keep your home free from potential water damage.

Your Family

  • Build and maintain an emergency supply kit. Include drinking water, a first-aid kit, canned food, a radio, flashlight and blankets. Visit www.Ready.gov for a disaster supply checklist for flood safety tips and information. Don’t forget to store additional supply kits in your car and at the office too.
  • Plan for your pet needs. Ensure you have pet food, bottled water, medications, cat litter/pan, newspaper, a secure pet carrier and leash included in your emergency supply kit.
  • Have a family emergency plan in place. Plan and practice flood evacuation routes from home, work and school that are on higher ground. Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations.

To learn more about preparing for floods, how to purchase a flood insurance policy and the benefits of protecting your home or property investment against flooding visit FloodSmart.gov  or call 1-800-427-2419. For even more readiness information follow FEMA Region V at twitter.com/femaregion5 and facebook.com/fema. Individuals can always find valuable preparedness information at www.Ready.gov or download the free FEMA app, available for Android, Apple or Blackberry devices.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Pet Talk: Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, a common tick-borne disease in humans, can be contracted by our canine companions as well.  The disease, which is caused by a spirochete bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, can often be difficult to diagnose.

“Hard-shelled ticks of the genus Ixodes transmit Borrelia burgdorferi,” said Dr. Carly Duff, veterinary resident at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “The tick attaches to its host, and then as the tick is feeding, spirochete bacteria migrate onto the host. As the tick feeds for a longer period of time and becomes engorged, there is greater risk of infection.”

Clinical signs in canine patients may include fever, enlarged lymph nodes, a lack of appetite, and lethargy. Others may develop acute lameness as a result of joint inflammation, which lasts for a few days before returning days later, not necessarily in the same leg. This is known as “shifting-leg lameness.” More serious complications can include kidney damage and heart or central nervous system abnormalities in rare cases.

Fortunately, your dog’s disease does not put you or your family at risk. “Dogs do not appear to be a source for infection in humans,” Dr. Duff said, “because they do not excrete infectious organisms in their bodily fluids to any appreciable extent.”

In order to most accurately diagnose Lyme disease, it is important that you provide your veterinarian with a thorough description of your dogs’ symptoms and a history of their health and activities. With this knowledge, your veterinarian will be able to better determine the affected organs and method of treatment.

Diagnostic tests may include a blood test, urinalysis, and/or a draw of fluid from the affected joints. Your veterinarian will use these tests to look for the presence of bacteria and parasites in the bloodstream.

Fortunately, Lyme disease is treatable. However, there is possible risk of recurrence of the disease.

“Doxycycline may be prescribed for 30 days, and dogs with Lyme disease should respond within one to two days,” said Dr. Duff. “Other drugs, such as amoxicillin and ceftriaxone have also been used.”

As far as prevention goes, limiting tick exposure by using tick repellents and avoiding frequent exposure to heavy tick-infested areas is the most effective. Controlling the deer population also has a direct impact on limiting the tick population.  Additionally, there are canine vaccines available to prevent Lyme disease, but you should consult with your veterinarian about whether this is the right option for your dog.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pettalk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.
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Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals (MECA) Now Offers Animal Chiropractic Services

Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals (MECA) announced today that they are now offering animal chiropractic services.
Dr. Jamie Mabeus has joined the team at MECA to bring pets natural remedies to physical ailments they may have.
Receiving her Doctor of Chiropractic Degree from the National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, Illinois, Dr. Mabeus recently completed her 226+ hour post-graduate training in Veterinary Spinal Manipulative Therapy – Animal Chiropractic in January and was trained by the the renowned Pedro Luis Rivera, DVM from the Healing Oasis in Sturtevant, Wisconsin.
“The benefits from chiropractic care to your pet’s total physical, mental and emotional well-being are immense.  While veterinary care should never be replaced by chiropractic care, the two collectively offer considerable health benefits,” said Dr. Marla Lichtenberger, owner, Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals.
Animal chiropractic care can relieve chronic pain caused by hip dysplasia, arthritis, and disc herniation.  It can also help repair your pet’s muscles by allowing their joints to move freely by keeping their muscles free of knots, spasms and weakness.  Chiropractic services stimulate the nervous system and alleviate inflamed nerves, blockages, and improper alignment that can all cause extreme pain, and even paralysis in pets.
Services are available for puppies and kittens, dogs and cats.  Hours of service are Tuesday 3pm-7pm and Thursday 7am-11am.  Please contact MECA to schedule an appointment at 414-543-7387.
Located in Greenfield, Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals (MECA), a state of the art facility, is Wisconsin’s premier 24-hour vet animal hospital for critical pet emergencies and is the leading provider of veterinary surgery services.  Dr. Marla Lichtenberger, DVM, DACVECC, the owner of MECA, is a highly respected and knowledgeable veterinarian critical care specialist, dedicated to critical emergency and surgical care of dogs and cats, as well as exotic animals. MECA’s patients consist of walk-in emergencies, critical animal care or emergency vet animal hospital surgical referrals.