Archive for January, 2012

4 tips for bringing your cat to the veterinarian

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012


We know it can be tough to wrangle your cat for a trip to the veterinarian’s office. Many cats dislike the cat carrier as well as riding in the car, so heading in for an annual checkup can sometimes be a stressful proposition. In order to reduce your cat’s stress and make for a calmer car ride, we’ve provided a few ideas to make your next trip to the veterinarian a little bit easier.

 Tips to Simplify Taking Your Cat to the Veterinarian:    

 1.   Make the carrier your cat’s second home.

Cat carriers are typically associated with many unpleasant things. Many cat owners keep the carrier in a closet or in the garage, so the cat hasn’t rubbed on it or slept inside it. Cats who haven’t transferred their scent to the carrier, therefore, see it as a foreign object. So give your cat time to mark the carrier with facial rubbing—she’ll feel like it belongs to her, and you may find it easier to place her inside. If you have room, make the carrier a part of your family room furniture. That means leaving it out all the time with the door open. Place a soft towel inside to make it a little more cozy. Pretty soon, your cat won’t think twice about entering the carrier.

2.   Turn the carrier into a meal center.  

Put part of your cat’s daily food in the carrier to help your cat associate something good with the carrier. Even better: Use a bit of especially yummy food, like canned food or even a little tuna. Or try tossing your cat’s favorite treat in the carrier when she wants to be left alone. This will reward her for seeking solitude in the carrier and continue to reinforce the notion that the carrier isn’t so bad after all.

3.    Try a different kind of carrier.

If you have an emergency and don’t have time to let your cat adjust to the carrier, try using a pillowcase as a carrier. With the cat on your lap, slip the pillowcase over her body, head first. Knot the top of the case and support the bottom when holding your cat. Alternately, you can use any type of item your cat likes to nap in—two laundry baskets connected together could also work. These items aren’t a trigger for fear like your standard carrier might be.

4.   Consider using a synthetic product.

Using a product that contains a feline facial pheromone can help calm cats during stressful events. These products can be sprayed on blankets, towels, or bandanas before you head to the veterinarian. Many cats become less agitated when their owners use these sprays, so purchasing one could make your life easier when it’s time to take your cat for a car ride.
Regular wellness exams are crucial for keeping your cat happy and healthy. Use these tips the next time you head to your veterinarian to make it much easier on both you.



Top 6 household items toxic to pets

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Here are the top six most  common household items that are toxic to pets, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. Household Pet Toxins:


1. Xylitol: Many sugarless gums contain xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic to dogs. Candies, mints, flavored multi-vitamins, desserts, and baked goods may also be made with xylitol. When pets ingest large amounts, liver failure can occur. Even small amounts when ingested can result in a life-threatening drop in blood sugar. Signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, weakness, difficulty walking, tremors, and seizures.

The amount of xylitol typically found in most pet oral-care products is very small and, when used properly, these products aren’t expected to cause poisoning unless a dog ingests a very large amount.

2. Human medications: Common drugs such as NSAIDs, acetaminophen, and antidepressants can cause serious harm to your pets. NSAIDs can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure. Acetaminophen can damage red blood cells in cats, limiting their ability to carry oxygen, and in dogs it can lead to severe liver failure. Ingestion of antidepressants can lead to neurological problems like sedation, incoordination, agitation, tremors, and seizures.

3. Flowers: As beautiful as spring flowers are, some can cause severe toxicity or even fatalities in pets. Certain types of lilies such as tiger, day, Asiatic, Easter, and Japanese lilies are poisonous to cats. Just ingesting a few petals or pollen can result in severe feline kidney failure. In addition, spring bulbs like daffodils or tulips can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

4. Chocolate : While the occasional chocolate chip in one cookie may not be an issue, certain types of chocolate can be very toxic. Bakers’ chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. The chemical toxicity results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and possibly death.

5. Fertilizers: Many fertilizers are gastrointestinal irritants. However, some are often combined with dangerous chemicals and compounds called organophosphates or carbamates, which can be harmful or deadly to pets. Ingestion can result in drooling, watery eyes, urination, defecation, seizures, difficulty breathing, fever, and death.

6. Pest control products: Rodent, snail, and slug baits are often used to keep pests at bay—they are toxic to pets, and without immediate veterinary attention they can be fatal. Rodent baits can result in blood clotting disorders, brain swelling, or kidney failure, while snail and slug baits can result in severe tremors or seizures.

Pet first aid while traveling

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Pet medical emergencies don’t just happen at home. A few simple steps can better prepare you to help your pet with first aid treatment while you are traveling.


When traveling, pack a simple travel-size Pet first aid kit for your pet, similar to the one you have at home, along with an antidiarrheal medication that is safe for animals (ask your veterinarian to suggest a product).

  • Be sure to have handy the phone numbers of your veterinarian, the national animal poison control hotline (888.426.4235), and a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital in the area where you will be visiting. You can obtain a list of emergency veterinary clinics by country/state on the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society’s directory page at It’s a good idea to keep this URL with you during your travels as well, so you can find an emergency veterinary hospital wherever you are.
  • Your pet should be wearing an ID tag (which should be labeled with your name, home address and phone number) in addition to a travel tag or collar with information on where you are staying while away from home, so you can be contacted while still in the area.  A microchip is another good tool for helping you reunite with your pet should you become separated.
  • Perform a daily “health check” on your pet when away from home. Contact your veterinarian or a local veterinarian if you are concerned about any physical or behavioral changes.

Senior Pet Wellness Plans

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Did you know our canine and feline friends age anywhere from 5-7 years for every one of our human years?  Since pets age so much faster than we do, a pet can be considered a “senior citizen” by the time they are 7 years old.

Older pets need special attention to detect and manage the conditions that develop with age.  Dental problems, arthritis, obesity, diesease of the internal organs, cancer, vision and hearing loss all become more prevalent with age.  Many of these problems are quite treatable or at least controllable if detected early.

At St. Francis 24 Hr Animal Hospital we recommend wellness testing for all pets over the age of seven.  You can help make your pet’s golden years happy and healthy through early detection and treatment of problems associated with advancing age.

Below are the tests we recommend for our Senior Wellness Evaluation:


Complete Physical Examination

Complete Blood Count:  evaluation of white and red blood cells, platelets, and bone marrow function for anemia, infection, inflammation, and leukemia.

Blood Chemistry:  checks for function of liver, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, and electrolytes and more.

Blood Pressure:  high blood pressure may lead to strokes, eye and kidney disease.

Urine Analysis:  checks kidney function, bladder infections, bladder stones, diabetes.

Radiograph of chest and abdomen:  helps detect heart, lung, and abdominal abnormalities.

ECG:  detects heart rhythm abnormalities

Doctor Consultation:  Review results and make recommendations


Ask our veterinarians about screening your senior pet.

Adult Dog and Cat Wellness Plan

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Puppy and Kitten Wellness Plans

Monday, January 9th, 2012



Chocolate Toxicity

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Due to Chocolate Toxicity danger, we want to remind you of one thing: Please remember around Valentine’s Day that chocolate does not mean “I love you” to your dog!


We have all heard that chocolate is toxic to our canine companions, but how toxic is it really? And what happens if it’s ingested? These questions are both frequently asked by our clients.

The actual toxic components of chocolate are called theobromines, a type of CNS stimulant. They stimulate the brain to a point that initially causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This is followed by vomiting/diarrhea, and then tremors or seizures. This can eventually lead to death.

The toxicity of chocolate for dogs depends greatly on the type of chocolate ingested.  The purer the chocolate (higher percentage of cocoa), the more toxic it is.

Chocolate Toxicity levels can be ordered as follows, from most toxic to least toxic:

  1. Cocoa powder (more toxic)
  2. Dark chocolate
  3. Semi-sweet chocolate
  4. Milk chocolate
  5. White chocolate (less toxic)

So, if your 85-pound German Shepherd eats a Hershey bar, it is not likely going to cause any problems. But if your 10-pound Chihuahua eats the same bar, some significant reaction may occur. It is important to call your veterinarian if your pet has eaten toxic doses of chocolate — especially the darker chocolates.


Treatment for chocolate toxicity involves inducing vomiting if eaten within 2-4 hours. That will be followed by administration of activated charcoal with cathartics, to prevent further absorption and to help pass any residual chocolate through the GI tract faster. Hospitalization with IV fluid therapy for diuresis may also be indicated. In severely affected animals, a urinary catheter may be necessary to help prevent any absorption from the urine.


Friday, January 6th, 2012

Heartworm disease is a potentially serious problem in dogs in every geographic area in the United States. The
disease was initially prevalent in the southern coastal areas of the U.S., but due to the movement of dogs with the
human population, the disease has spread over most of the country. It is currently present in this area; however,
with proper preventive therapy, heartworm disease will not be a risk to your dog.
Heartworm disease is caused by Dirofilaria immitis, a parasitic worm that lives as an adult in the right side of the
dog’s heart and large blood vessels leading to the lungs. Heartworms do most of the damage in the adult stage, at
which time the full grown male worms measure about six inches in length and the females can reach a length of
twelve inches.
Heartworms are transmitted from dog to dog by mosquitoes. There are three stages in the development of
heartworms in the dog.
1. The adult female, living in the right side of the heart and/or major vessels to the lungs, produces immature
worms called “microfilariae” that circulate in the blood stream. The microscopic microfilariae can live for up to
3 years.
2. When a mosquito bites an infected dog, it takes in blood containing microfilariae. The microfilariae mature in
the mosquito over a period of two weeks to become infective larvae.
3. The mosquito, carrying infective larvae, deposits them in other dogs during blood meals. Larvae develop over
3-6 months and migrate to the right heart. Within 6 months, the larvae develop into adult heartworms that are
responsible for the disease process in the heart and lungs. The adult heartworms can live up to 7 years. The
adults produce microfilariae, hence completing the life cycle.
Signs of heartworm disease may occur within 6 months of infection or may not appear at all depending the
number of adult worms that are present. In most cases, signs will begin within 1-2 years after infection. Typical signs include coughing, labored breathing, weakness, and tiring with exercise. Since the signs vary, the disease may be well advanced before the dog begins to show any problems, or signs may be mistaken for another problem. In advanced
stages, the heart and lungs can be severely damaged. Eventually, heart failure can occur and the dog can die from damage cause by heartworms unless appropriate treatment is instituted.
To identify heartworm infection, a blood sample is taken from your dog.
This test detects antigens from female worms and is very sensitive and accurate.

The two preventive medications that are recommended by St. Francis 24 Hr. Animal Hospital are Heartgard  and Interceptor.  These products are intended to be given on a monthly basis and are highly effective in preventing heartworm disease if given as directed.

To control heartworms in the dog population and to provide your pet with the best possible protection against
heartworms, the following guideline are recommended:
1. All puppies should be started on preventive medication.
2. Your dog should be checked annually for heartworms with an antigen test particularly if there have been
breaks in the administration of preventive medication.
3. All dogs in our area should be on preventive medication year round.
4. Dog that shows signs of weakness, persistent coughing, breathing difficulty, or decreased ability to
exercise may have heartworms and should be tested.
5. If your dog is diagnosed with heartworms, it should be treated by a veterinarian to prevent permanent
damage to the heart and lungs.
6. Prevention is the best approach to heartworms. If preventive and monitoring programs are followed,
unnecessary treatment and permanent heart and lung damage can be avoided.
Heartworms can infect the cat but this is an uncommon problem in this area. Monthly preventative medication is
available but is not routinely recommended at St. Francis 24 Hr. Animal Hospital,  however, it is available for owners who decide preventive therapy is appropriate for their cat.



Summer pet care tips

Friday, January 6th, 2012


Review these tips to keep pets safe and healthy during the spring and summer seasons.                                                                                                                              


  • Provide plenty of fresh drinking water at all times.
  • Keep your pet’s kennel well-ventilated and positioned near a well-shaded area where your pet can avoid midday sun and heat.
  • Avoid excessive exercise during hot weather.  Over-exertion can cause heat stress or stroke.  Safe outdoor temperatures for pets vary by breed and size. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation specific to your pet.
  • Warning: If you suspect heat stress or stroke (e.g., collapse, extremely heavy panting, excessive drooling), wet your pet thoroughly with cool (not cold) water by immersion or spray your pet with a garden hose and call your veterinarian immediately.

Skin and body

  •  Keep your pet well-groomed. Long hair and hair mats can decrease your pet’s ability to keep cool and contribute to skin disease. So regularly brush your pet and trim hair as needed.
  • Vaccinate your pet against infectious diseases (e.g., canine parvovirus or feline leukemia).  Pets usually have more contact with other animals during warmer months and disease can spread more easily.

Parasite prevention

  • Use monthly flea, tick, and heartworm preventives.  Pets should take these preventives yearround.  Remember, it’s often easier and cheaper to prevent parasites than treat them when a pet’s infested or infected. Take your pet for fecal
  • exams for internal parasites at least yearly. To reduce pets’ access to parasites and discourage parasite breeding, keep your yard clean of feces, dump any standing water—even in watering cans or flower pot saucers—clean up leaf litter, and trim bushes and trees.

Toxic substances

  •  The poisons that kill common pests, like rodents, snails, and slugs, are lethal to pets, too, if consumed. So limit your pet’s access to places where these poisons are stored in and around your home.
  • Lawn herbicides can also poison pets, so keep your pet out of the yard while spraying herbicides and off the grass for three days afterward. Washing pets’ paws thoroughly with soap and cool water before coming back inside will help remove herbicidal residue.

Motor vehicles

  • The temperature inside a car can easily climb to 120 degrees when a vehicle is parked in the summer sun. Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle.

Winter pet care tips

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Winter pet care tips

  •  Keep cats indoors and shorten exercise walks for dogs when the temperature falls.  Safe outdoor temperatures for pets vary by breed and size. Ask your veterinarian for a specific recommendation for your pet.
  •  If your pet must be outside at all, provide adequate shelter. A dog house should be no more than three times the dog’s size. The door should face away from the wind—usually south. And avoid blankets and straw—they can harbor fleas. Use cedar shavings for bedding instead. Provide similar shelter or access to a building for outdoor cats.
  •  Never allow your dog to walk on a lake or pond that looks frozen. The appearance of ice can be deceiving and pets can fall through and drown.

Parasite prevention

  •  Continue using monthly flea, tick, and heartworm preventives. Pets should take these preventives year-round. Remember, it’s often easier and cheaper to prevent parasites than treat them when a pet’s infested or infected.  Take your pet for fecal exams for internal parasites at least yearly, and keep your yard clean of feces.

Motor vehicles and antifreeze

  •  When the weather cools, cats like to sleep near a warm car engine, curling up on or under the hood. So be sure you know where your cat is and honk the horn before starting your car.
  • Antifreeze can be lethal. It tastes sweet to pets and contains ethylene glycol, a toxic agent.  So always clean up any antifreeze if it spills.  Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has consumed antifreeze.

Diet, food, and water

  • Like people, outdoor pets can burn more calories in the winter. However, most indoor pets don’t need their diet adjusted for different seasons. Your veterinarian can help determine whether your pet’s diet is adequate and balanced.
  • To prevent dehydration, be sure your pet’s water supply doesn’t freeze. And use a non-metal water dish to keep your pet’s tongue from sticking.
  • Candy, especially chocolate, can make pets sick. A stomachache is the milder side effect, but chocolate poisoning—caused by theobromine, a compound found naturally in chocolate and related to caffeine—can be fatal.


  •  Rock salt, used to melt snow and ice, can irritate paw pads. Clean pads thoroughly after a trip outside.
  •  Uneven, icy surfaces can slash dogs’ paw pads, so keep your dog on a leash or dress him in canine booties.
  •  Without hard surfaces to act as a natural file, dogs’ toenails grow longer in winter, so regularly clip your pet’s nails.


  •  If you have a tree-climbing cat or large dog, consider securing your holiday tree by anchoring the top of the tree to a wall using strong cord or rope. Make sure any presents accessible to pets are securely wrapped, and don’t use ribbon or raffia.
  • Frequently check the ground around holiday trees. Ingested pine needles can puncture pets’ intestines.
  • Keep all tree ornaments, yarn, ribbon, and garlands well out of pets’ reach by hanging them high on the tree. Don’t use tinsel.
  •  Keep lit candles out of pets’ reach.
  • Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia plants are poisonous when consumed. Enjoy their beauty while keeping pets safe by placing them well out of pets’ reach.
  •  Puppies and kittens like to chew, so keep electrical cords out of reach.
  •  When entertaining, be sure guests know these and other household rules that help keep your pet safe.