• Welcome to my Blog!

    Here is where you will find (free) information on how to keep your pets healthy, what to do when they have problems, and how to make the tough decisions. I’ll share heartwarming stories of animals who have fought brave battles with their health.

Inappropriate urination in cats or why is my cat peeing on my stuff?

Why is my cat peeing on my stuff?

Inappropriate urination in cats

There are several reasons that cats urinate outside the litter box and it is one of the most common and most frustrating problems for cat owners. Get help from your veterinarian asap or things will get worse.

Fat British Shorthair, 2.5 years old, sitting and looking with suspicion in front of white background

Unhappy kitty


1.       The litter box is not clean, they don’t like the litter or too many cats for one litter box (the rule is have one extra litter box per cat- if you have two cats, have three litter boxes)

2.       Your cat has a urinary tract infection- you need to have an exam and urinalysis done to find out if your cat has an infection. It is best to also have a culture and sensitivity done to find out if there are any bacteria present and to choose the correct antibiotic. Diabetic cats sometimes urinate outside the box- a very large amount of urine.

3.       Idiopathic cystitis or Stress- these cats generally strain to urinate, urinate small amounts and sometimes you will see blood in the urine (they also do this with an infection so you must have a urinalysis to determine which is which). There are many causes of stress, including other cats, stress in the household, changes in the household and not enough exercise or stimulation.


cat spraying

Cat marking behavior

4.       Marking behavior- These cats usually urinate a normal (large) amount of urine, sometimes stand up and spray and do not strain when urinating. This is generally a marking behavior used when a cat is claiming its territory from other cats or new people or other animals or is threatened by cats outside or around the house. It is activated by stress and a urinalysis will show that the urine is normal.

Diagnostics- a urinalysis and culture and sensitivity of the urine is essential to determine the cause of inappropriate urination. Often blood tests need to be performed as well, to determine the health of the kidneys and to find out if your cat is a diabetic.

Treatment- Treatment depends on the cause. Some of the following may be recommended or prescribed.

cat playing with feather toy

Happy kitty playing with feather toy

1.       Exercise and environmental enrichment. Cats need exercise and an interesting environment filled with safe places (little tents or cardboard boxes) to get away by themselves. They need lots of toys spread throughout the home- hanging from walls or doors, up high on cat scratchers, lasers, fishing pole toys for activity to keep them from being stressed out. They also need plenty of clean litter boxes to use at all times.

cat on scratcher

cat on scratcher

2.       If your veterinarian determines your cat has a urinary tract infection, antibiotics will be chosen in response to the culture and sensitivity and should be used at least 2-3 weeks. The urine should then be tested again to make sure it is gone. Blood work should be performed to make sure the urinary infection wasn’t caused by a kidney infection or other problem. If your veterinarian determines there are crystals in the urine, the proper diet is utilized and you need to have the urine retested in approximately 30 days to make sure they are gone. If your cat is a diabetic it will be treated with insulin.

3.       Idiopathic cystitis- distress the household and use exercise and environmental enrichment. Your veterinarian may also prescribe pheromone sprays (Feliway) or diffusers, anti-anxiety medication, anti-depressant medication, a medication that will help relax your cat’s sphincter to allow easier urination or other medications that will help your cat relax and prevent further problems.

4.       Special preventive medical diets may be prescribed for cats with crystals in their urine. Your cat must stay on these diets throughout its life or the problem can recur.

5.       Marking behavior can be reduced by environmental enrichment, separating cats, limiting exposure to outside cats and reducing stress in the household.

Bottom line- Do not get upset with your cat! They can’t help it. They don’t know any other way to express that they are unhappy and need your help. Getting angry with them will only increase the anxiety and make things worse.

Happy Hugo

Happy Hugo



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Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs and Cats or “My Dog got into my Pot!”

Marijuana toxicity in Pets

Washington State recently legalized marijuana and veterinarians have seen a fourfold increase in the number of pets (mostly dogs) presented to veterinary hospitals/clinics for marijuana toxicity. Emergency clinics now stock urine drug tests to diagnose marijuana toxicity.Marijuana toxicity in old Golden



Marijuana legalization enables individuals to leave their marijuana and marijuana infused edible products out on the kitchen counters, coffee tables, office desks and other areas that dogs, cats and children can access.



Marijuana toxicity is no joke. These dogs come in terrified. Symptoms include loss of bladder control, severe agitation, startle response, depression, lethargy, hyperesthesia, and lack of coordination, alterations in mood and behavior (including aggression), dilated pupils, respiratory depression, coma and slow heart rates (bradycardia). They are usually urinating on themselves, tremoring, and for lack of a better descriptor, are completely freaked out.

ASPCA chart of marijuana toxicity in pets

There are at least 4 cases of confirmed death in dogs due to toxic ingestion of THC in Washington and Colorado in the last few years.


Dog with marijuana toxicity in Washington State

These animals have to be hospitalized for 24-72 hours before the THC is released from storage in the body’s fat deposits and the effects wear off. Treatment for marijuana toxicity includes emetics (medications to make them vomit up stomach contents), activated charcoal to soak up the toxins, IV fluids and supportive therapy and costs in the thousands of dollars.



If your dog or cat (or child) ingests marijuana it is an emergency. The faster they can receive treatment, the better the prognosis.

marijuana is dangerous for pets

So, unless you want to pay approximately $1-2000 in veterinary bills and completely freak out your dog or cat (or child), PLEASE LOCK UP YOUR POT and THC edibles and keep them away from animals and children.Cat with marijuana bag





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The Importance of the Human Animal Bond

Veterinary Consultations on Animal Welfare and The Human Animal Bond

For the last few years of my life as a veterinarian I have done veterinary consultations and veterinary expert witness opinions by telephone, skype and email through my internet business. What I have found to be true in these consultations is that people need a compassionate response to their connection with their animals. They want someone to honor and care about this relationship and to give them advice from a heartfelt place. They want someone who will slow down, take them seriously and listen.

Melodie and Mazie

Melodie and Mazie

When I ask questions and carefully listen to the answers, my clients learn to trust me, as a source of information and advice on animal health and well-being. I learn to trust them with my reactions and opinions because of their connections to their animals. This is a sharing of the human animal bond.

The Human Animal Bond is defined as: “… a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment. “  (American Veterinary Medical Association).


It further defines the responsibility of the veterinarian: “The veterinarian’s role in the human-animal bond is to maximize the potentials of this relationship between people and animals.”

Jack, puppies and me on walk.jpg

Dr. Byrd, Reina, Bodhi and Jack

I have always taken this role very seriously and do my best to make it the foundation of my life.

The human animal bond is difficult to describe fully. It is only within the last 50 years or so that this bond has been given close attention. It is only relatively recently that it has become “acceptable”, even admirable, to think so highly of our animal companions.

Progress with animal cruelty

We have come a long way from “beasts of burden” mentality that embraced animal cruelty as a routine and acceptable practice.  In the 16 through much of the 19th centuries, most animals were thought of as “pests” or sources of labor or food- devoid of feelings or capability of even rudimentary communication. Today, there are production practices that still appear to place little value on their “commodities”, but this is a rapidly changing industry.

As of March of 2014 all 50 states now provide felony charges for animal cruelty. Unfortunately at the same time, incidences of violence against animals is growing. I just attended the Washington State Bar Associations conference for attorneys, law enforcement, veterinarians and others in animal welfare on animal cruelty which contained materials, including “crush” videos that made me weep.

As far as the communicative capabilities of animals- animals can communicate emotions very clearly, fear and joy are two examples.

One has only has to witness a dog cowering in the presence of an abusive owner or a thunderstorm to know that they can express communication that is easily understood as the emotion of fear. YouTube Preview Image

One has only to watch the video of the cutting free from entanglement a Humpback whale to know it is expressing joy after it is liberated.YouTube Preview Image

There are still people who feel uncomfortable confessing the enormity of the connection they have with their animals, there are still those who make fun of big men with small dogs and ridicule people who put sweaters on their dogs, but, for the most part, society as a whole is beginning to affirm the increased value that animals have in our lives.

human animal bond 3

Human Animal Bond


Orca in captivity

Captive Orca entertaining tourists- should it be eating fish in the ocean?

This value extends to a larger picture, those animals that share this earth with us that are not domesticated. The wild animals- the lions and cheetahs we see on safaris roaming the Serengeti plains, the Humpback whales and green sea turtles that we snorkel with off the beach of Maui, the dolphins that used to be routinely slaughtered in Japan. The Elephants that have been utilized as attractions in circuses and zoos. The Orca whales that have been removed from their pods to live out their lives in small concrete ponds. The public is questioning the value of these exhibitions at the expense of the welfare of the animals.

Please see the movie Black Fish to get a good idea of what animals think of captive situations. We cannot bury our heads in the sand because this truth is difficult to see.

Advances in social media have brought animal welfare to our immediate attention. When someone can instantly videotape an instance of animal cruelty, the world reacts quickly and strongly and is becoming less and less tolerant of these acts. Incidences of childhood and adolescent animal cruelty are beginning to be recognized as possible signals of both present domestic violence and future anti-social, violent behaviors. We are starting to see a trend toward collective responsibility and accountability for the quality of lives of our fellow beings on this earth. We are starting to recognize that our animal companions have greater value to our society.

human animal bond street

Human Animal Bond


We are the custodians of these animals. We are accountable for their welfare. The word custodian means: “a person who has responsibility for or who looks after something”. Synonyms are keeper, guardian, steward and protector. I hope that we are becoming more responsible custodians of our animal companions.

In 1965 in the UK, Professor Roger Brambell declared, during a farm investigation, that animals should have the freedom to “stand up, lie down, turn around, groom themselves and stretch their limbs”.[1] This short recommendation became known as Brambell’s Five Freedoms (from Farm Animal Welfare Committee).

These five freedoms are now used extensively to define instances of abuse or cruelty in animal cruelty cases and have been expanded to include:

Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor

Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area

Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment

Freedom to express (most) normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind

Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

chickens in battery cage

Chickens in a battery cage

These five freedoms are referenced often in my work as an veterinary expert witness in cases involving animal cruelty. They give us the capability to define the conditions that animals have a right to live in.

What responsibilities are we willing to take on as custodians of our animal companions? How far into the animal world do these responsibilities extend? Should we divide the line at “domesticated” animals vs. animal in the wild? Should we draw species lines between “common domesticated animals” such as dogs and cats, or “farm animals” which might include cows, sheep? What about our food animals? Do the same custodial responsibilities apply to them? What about the wild animals? Do the five freedoms apply to zoos and wildlife parks and circuses and research facilities? What about our oceans? Are we also responsible for the populations of Orca and Humpback whales?

Being responsible for the dog or cat we have in our home seems like a manageable task but when we expand out our custodial responsibilities to these outer regions it all seems a bit overwhelming, possibly impossible. Our initial excitement and enthusiasm for extending our compassion to our animal friends suddenly drops off and we retreat to our comfort zone of understanding that at times, it is simply overwhelming just to care for ourselves.

The good news is, we are not alone. We don’t have to do it all. There are thousands of organizations and billions of dollars being poured into these questions in greater numbers than ever before. The following organizations and many more work tirelessly to promote the well-being of animals.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

American Humane Association

International Fund for Animal Welfare

Humane Society for the United States

Rather than becoming overwhelmed and retreating, let’s learn more about the current state of our custodial status and see if there is some small way that we as individuals can make a difference that makes us feel better about the overall status of the beings that share our planet. If today, we take our dog for an extra-long walk, that’s enough. Consider volunteering or donating to an organization that support the welfare of animals. Every bit helps. Take Care.

horse human bond

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10 Tips to Ease Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

10 Tips to ease Arthritis in your Cats or Dogs

By Guest Blogger Mindy Francisco

Arthritis is a slowly progressive and degenerative bone disease that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. While there is no cure, pet owners can help their pets live a more comfortable and tail-wagging life. They can’t always tell us they are in pain, so watch for: slowing down, having difficulty lying down or getting up, limping or refusing to go up or down stairs.

Sweet Barley

Sweet Barley


  1. Anti-inflammatory and Pain Medication

There is a wide variety of very effective anti-inflammatory and pain medication available to help reduce your pet’s discomfort. It is best to discuss the risks and side effects of these medications with your veterinarian. Do not use human medication as it is toxic to pets.

  1. Supplements for Arthritis in Pets
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate are the best: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2084&aid=670
  • Omega-3 Fish Oil is a supplement that reduces inflammation. You can add a squirt or two of fish oil to your pet’s food…they love the taste too!
  • Turmeric has natural anti-inflammatory properties. In pure powder form, a few pinches can be sprinkled onto your pet’s food.
  1. Soft Bed and Bedding –Consider getting a bed with more padding such as an Orthopedic Pet Bed. There are many styles and brands to choose from easily found online or at your local pet store.
  2. Heat – Colder temperatures can make an arthritic pet’s joints more stiff and painful. Safe heating pads should be set on low only.  They can be placed under a towel or bed on their favorite places to lie down.
  3. Non-Slip Flooring – It is harder for an arthritic dog to get themselves up on slick surfaces such as wood, ceramic tile, or vinyl floors. You can remedy this by putting down throw rugs or bath mats in the places they frequent.
  4. Steps or Ramps – An arthritic pet will not be able to access higher places like your bed or car. This can be solved by providing steps or ramps specifically designed for dogs. If you are handy with carpentry, you can make your own steps.
  5. Dog Gates for Stairways –Because you cannot always monitor your pet, add dog gates wherever you have stairs in your home.
  6. Diets for Arthritic Pets: A diet low in “unhealthy” fat supplemented with Omega-3 is a good choice. Because obesity in pets can contribute to joint pain, it is important to make sure your pet’s diet accommodates a healthy weight. http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/best-dog-foods/suggested-low-fat-dog-food/)
  7. Acupuncture – Known to decrease inflammation and pain and improve range of motion.
  8. Exercise for Arthritic Pets: Exercise helps to increase blood circulation, keeps muscles strong to support joints, and helps overall sense of well-being. Exercise should be moderate, based on the severity of their condition and their limitations.
  • Water Therapy/Swimming (yes, cats too!) is a great way to exercise your pets without stressing the joints.
  • DSC_1178.jpeg
  • Walking or gentle running as far as is comfortable for your pet.
  • Avoid throwing balls and long distance running with any dog that is exhibiting signs of arthritis.

Bottom line- Don’t despair if your beloved pet has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis – they can still live a happy, comfortable, and active life with your help!


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Sudden Hearing Loss in Dogs- Hunting/Explosions

Why can’t my dog hear any more?

I’ve had a few people write in lately about hunting dogs who have experienced sudden hearing loss – this type of hearing loss is called Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). With hunting season upon us, it is good to know what causes this type of hearing loss in dogs and what the possible outcomes are. 

Too Loud, Too Close and Too Fast

Ears have mechanisms that reduce the noise coming into the ear to protect the inner ear when very loud noises occur. However, gunfire or explosives cause the noise to occur too rapidly for the ear to react. Shotguns and rifles produce an intensity of sound that exceeds 140 decibels. Normal conversation is at about 60 decibels and music played loudly is at about 100 decibels.hunting dog

The distance from the sound (the gun) to the dog should exceed 30 meters. Loud sounds can damage (rupture or break) the ear drum (tympanic membrane) or can damage the bones of the inner ear or the hair cells that line the inner ear and transmit the noise to the brain. Loud noises can also induce a very loud tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which can subside somewhat over time.




dog with hunting ear muffs

Dog with hunting ear muffs from: http://www.earplugstore.com/mumufordo.html

Distance is most important. Some of this noise can be slightly reduced by placing cotton balls or specially designed ear plugs or ear muffs into or around your dog’s ears. Just make sure your dog doesn’t have an ear infection and don’t forget to take them out at the end of the day!

How long will my dog be deaf?

Although it is impossible to predict, due to the variability of the possible damage done, the first 48 hours to 1 week tend to be the most important time to observe changes.

One veterinary internal medicine specialist said: “Sound levels above 120-140 dB can cause acute hearing loss. Shotguns average about 150 dB, which is why people wear hearing protection at gun ranges. Noise-induced hearing loss will sometimes improve or resolve over 1-2 weeks, which is the case in a lot of cases I’ve seen. But it can also be permanent.”

What do I do if my dog is permanently deaf?

There are many sources to understand how you can help your dog live without hearing or with diminished hearing. Here are a couple of good links: http://www.deafdogs.org/training/  , http://caninedeafness.com/living_with_a_dea-dog.html http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/training-and-caring-for-a-deaf-dog

From Deaf Dogs Rock Facebook page

A Rescue Dog from Deaf Dogs Rock Facebook page

I have had many, many deaf patients over the years and I have seen all of them lead productive, satisfying lives when their owners go the extra mile to figure out how to train them and make them feel safe. One of my good friends has had a completely deaf dog for 8 years now and the dog goes hiking, swimming and climbing with her.

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Is My Dog or Cat in Pain?

Assessing Pain in Dogs and Cats

Is my cat or dog in pain?

Why am I unhappy?

Why am I unhappy?


This is a difficult question. While those of us involved in veterinary medicine find it somewhat intuitive to assess the pain level of animals- that intuitiveness comes from many years of observing animals in states of discomfort and pain and is not easily defined. We know that injuries and surgeries cause pain, and that many procedures that we do as veterinarians cause pain to our patients (that’s the worst part of our jobs!)

After surgery I hurt!

After surgery I hurt!

When we give analgesics in the hospital, it is very obvious when our patients relax and are no longer in pain. When we treat emergencies such as fractures or dog-fight wounds or lacerations, we get to see the animals recover from the pain. Pain management is a changing art and we are learning more about it all the time.

Animals are hard-wired to avoid showing pain. They exist in a predator-prey world where the weakest (wounded or starving, etc) animals will be eliminated by stronger animals or left behind to die. We have all seen the videos of the lions that watch the herd and attack the weakest ones.

Animals hide their pain and often hide themselves to prevent their pain from being discovered.

Scared and hiding

Scared and hiding

This is a behavioral change that you can watch for to find out if your dog or cat is in pain.

Signs of Pain in Cats and Dogs

Here are some questions to assess if your cat or dog is in pain:

Is your cat or dog sleepless, restless, seeking cover, hiding, depressed, sluggish, withdrawn, staying still, twitching, shaking, have tremors? All of these can be signs of pain in cats and dogs.

Is your cat or dog’s heart rate increased? Respiration rate increased? Panting?

Is your cat or dog tense? Does it resist handling? Is it aggressive? Sometimes, with severe pain, your cat or dog’s pupils may be dilated.

Does your cat or dog have abnormal posture? Does your cat of dog have abnormalities of their gate? Are they wobbly when they walk? Are they lame in a certain leg? Lameness ALWAYS equals pain (unless it’s neuropathy which is very rare).

Is your cat or dog licking, chewing, biting, scratching, rolling, writhing or kicking? These are all indications of discomfort and pain.

Is your cat flicking its tail? The most common reason cats flick their tail is irritation or pain.

Evaluate your dog or cats facial expressions. Do they look normal? Are they bright, active and alert? Do they respond normally? If their ears are back, their facial expressions pinched, their heads lowered, curled up in a defensive posture, all of these can mean pain.

Uncertain British Shorthair

Uncertain British Shorthair

Just because a cat is purring does not mean it is not in pain! Cat’s purr sometimes to soothe themselves in distressing or painful situations.

Vocalization is one way a cat or dog can exhibit pain. Many clients come to me when their cats are suddenly very vocal and I always look for sources of pain.

Because assessing pain in cats and dogs is difficult, sometimes people ASSUME their cat or dog is NOT in pain when it is. Cats and dogs can’t grab us by the hand and show us their pain nor can they scream at us about their pain.

An example of this is oral or dental pain. Animal’s teeth accumulate tartar, decay and abscessed teeth without regular dental care. This periodontal disease ALWAYS produces pain, sometimes very severe pain that cannot be discerned by caring owners. Dental problems are very painful and need to be fixed. I can’t tell you how many times my clients come to me after their animals get adequate dental care and tell me that their pet “seems like a new pet, has a new lease on life!”

I need my teeth clean!

I need my teeth clean!

Sometimes the only way of telling how much pain your pet is in is to take the pain away and see how much their behavior changes! When in doubt I administer an anti-inflammatory and see if the behavior changes- if the lameness goes away or the animal relaxes.

Most dogs and cats develop painful arthritis as they age. These animals needs to be on anti-inflammatory medications, just like we do when we have chronic pain.

The easiest way to assess pain in your animal is to tell your veterinarian your concerns and have them do an examination. Human pain relieving medications are toxic to animals so you MUST see a veterinarian to obtain appropriate pain relief. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of the medications as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications do not come without some risks.

A proper assessment and pain relief can make a huge difference in the quality of life for your animal. Long live happy animals!

Look for the look of happy love:)

Look for the look of happy love:)

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Veterinary Expert Witness Services

What is a Veterinary Expert Witness?

Definition of Expert Witness

An Expert Witness as currently defined by the Expert Witness Institute is:” An expert can be anyone with knowledge of, or experience in, a particular field or discipline beyond that to be expected of a layman. An expert witness is an expert who makes this knowledge and experience available to a court (or other judicial or quasi-judicial bodies, e.g. tribunals, arbitrations, official enquiries, etc.) to help it understand the issues in a case and thereby reach a sound and just decision.”

Veterinary Expert Witnesses as a Specialty

Veterinary Expert Witnesses are called upon to provide an opinion to establish the relevant standard of care for the veterinary field. A Veterinary Expert Witness may be retained by one of the parties involved in litigation to review and analyze records or other information and provide an opinion. They also may be retained to help sort through claims that conflict with each other. A Veterinary Expert Witness can be used to give a written opinion, they might give depositions and they might testify in a court setting. Many cases are settled before they proceed to court.


Examples of the use of a veterinary expert witness may involve resolving animal cruelty issues, veterinary  malpractice or negligence cases such as misdiagnosis or prescribing the wrong medication, suits against Humane Societies or rescue organizations or animal breeders. Veterinary Expert Witnesses can be retained by other veterinarians, attorneys, private parties, non-profit organizations, cities, counties, states or corporations.

Selecting a Veterinary Expert Witness

To choose a Veterinary Expert Witness the person you choose should fill the requirements of having the necessary scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge for the specific case and you and your attorney should determine if that knowledge will be helpful to determine the outcome of the case.
It is important that a veterinary expert witness base their opinion on an adequate data base, follow industry guidelines for the veterinary field and apply those guidelines to the facts of the case. A veterinary expert witness should be professional in their appearance and demeanor and should be comfortable appearing in a court or deposition setting.legal scales

An expert witness opinion or report should include the basis of their opinion, the data or information that supports their opinion, exhibits where applicable and the experts’ qualifications. Expert witnesses are expected to keep all correspondence confidential.

All of us would like to resolve our disputes with good communication and objectivity. Occasionally it’s difficult to put yourself in the other persons’ shoes. When passions flare and people get stuck sometimes the best alternative is to seek mediation between the parties. If mediation doesn’t do the job, people turn to the court system to solve issues. In some cases these disputes are about animals. At those times it’s helpful to have the opinion of a veterinarian.

Dr. Teri Byrd provides veterinary expert witness services along with veterinary consultations by phone, skype or email. Do you want to talk to a veterinarian? Please contact Dr. Byrd at: teribyrd@hotmail.com or 808-866-0420.

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Why is my dog coughing?

Why is my dog coughing?

Coughing dog

Coughing dog

There are many causes of coughing in dogs. Some causes are more likely in young dogs and some are more likely in older dogs.

The most likely cause of coughing in a young, otherwise healthy dog is kennel cough. It is a dry, hacking cough that looks like gagging more than coughing. Many cases of kennel cough are mild.  However, occasionally kennel cough can lead to debilitating illness so always have your dog checked out by a veterinarian.

Other causes of coughing in dogs are:

Heartworm, Bronchitis (allergic, tracheobronchitis), Pneumonia, Tracheal collapse (generally in small breed dogs), foreign bodies in the airways, and fungal infections.

Other causes of coughing are: congestive heart failure and lung cancer, both of these are more common in older dogs.

How do veterinarians figure out the cause of coughing?

A thorough examination and chest x-rays are usually the first steps in figuring out why a dog is coughing.

A Heartworm test is performed in areas that Heartworm occurs or when a dog has visited a Heartworm endemic area.

Sometimes a Transtracheal wash or a Bronchoalveolar Lavage is done to get a sample of the cells that are present in the airways to diagnose the cause of coughing and prescribe the correct treatment. Bronchoscopy is another way to obtain helpful information about why a dog is coughing.

If a heart murmur is heard during the veterinary examination and is known to have progressed over time, congestive heart failure is high on the list of possibilities.

Many of these causes of coughing in dogs can be treated successfully.  It is important to take your pet to your veterinarian as soon as the cough begins. It is helpful to film a video of your dog coughing so that the veterinarian can help diagnose the problem.

See how your pet responds to the staff

Feeling better now!

And please make sure your pets are never subjected to second hand smoke, it is just as dangerous to them as it is to us!

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Does my dog or cat need blood tests?

Does my dog or cat need blood work? What tests does my cat or dog need?

New Years is a great time to think about “tune ups” for your pets.  A tune up for a pet includes a complete exam, parasite screen, blood profile and a urinalysis at the minimum. X-rays and additional blood tests are recommended for certain ages and conditions.

Thumbs up on blood tests

Thumbs up on blood tests

Why do veterinarians do blood work on pets?

Blood tests can tell us if your pet has diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatic problems, thyroid problems, anemia (blood loss), and many other conditions. If veterinarians can catch these diseases early they are much more treatable than in later stages.

vet cutting bandage off dog

Here is a link that describes more about these tests: http://www.idexx.com/pubwebresources/pdf/en_us/smallanimal/education/diagnostic-testing-handout.pdf


Blood tests are important for pets of any age but they become even more important as your pet ages. Blood tests are important before anesthesia to assess your pet’s overall ability to withstand the risks of anesthesia. While it does not eliminate these risks it helps your veterinarian manage those risks.

With treatment, some diseases, such as diabetes, can be well controlled and your pet can live many more Happy New Years.


Happy New Year to all of you wonderful loving pet owners!

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Does My Cat Have Ear Mites? Why is my cat scratching its ears?

Why is my cat scratching its ears? Does my cat have ear mites or an ear infection?

Have you seen your cat scratching its ears? Have you found scratches present on your cats head in front of its ears?

My ears are bothering me!

My ears are bothering me!

A very general rule for ears problems in cats and dogs is this: If a cat is itching its ears and has dark brown or black crusty debris in its ear canals it has ear mites. If a dog is itching its ears and has debris present in the ear canals it’s an ear infection.  Ear mites are rarely found in dogs.

Ear mites are difficult to eradicate in cats. They are microscopic and just when you think they are gone they proliferate again and come back to haunt the cat. There have been many medications created in the last few years for ear mite eradication and some of them work better than others.Ear mite

Ear mites can be confirmed by your veterinarian placing a small amount of the dark crusty debris in the ears onto a slide and examining under the microscope for the presence of mites.

Treatment for ear mites can include:  topical medication that goes in the ears (please have your veterinarian prescribe this, many of the online or pet store topicals are not effective) treat for at least 3 weeks, topical medication that goes on the pet such as Revolution flea and tick control, systemic medication – injectable or oral medications.

After the ears have been treated for 3 weeks have your veterinarian recheck the ear canals to make sure there are no other problems. Cats can also have ear polyps, bacterial and yeast infections and other ear problems that may be contributing to the problem.

Make sure that all new cats adopted into your household are treated for mites before they arrive or they can spread the mites to your other kitties.

Marias beloved cats

Marias beloved cats


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