Why You Shouldn’t Neglect Blood Work For Your Pet

Most of us aren’t experts in our own health. That’s why we visit the doctor when we’re sick and go in for our yearly checkup. We feed ourselves, bathe ourselves, and try to get as much rest and sleep as possible. The same should go for our beloved pets. Our furry companions don’t have the same autonomy as us, and it’s up to us to give them the best life we can – healthcare included. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed at a veterinarian’s office, we’re here to help you understand why blood work for your pet and annual checkups are some of the simplest and easiest things you can do to ensure your pet’s wellbeing.

What’s The Importance Of Blood Work And Checkups For Your Pet?

For better or for worse, our pets cannot speak. Naturally, this means that they cannot tell us about any pain and discomfort. In particular, cats are especially good at hiding illness. According to a 2016 survey with over 2,000 respondents, 21% of cat owners said that their cat had age-related health issues. The real number is probably higher. That’s why it is always better for a trained professional to examine your pet from head to tail on a regular basis.

Also remember that our pets do not have the same life span as us. Because they age at a different rate, we have to be extra diligent in regularly examining their health. Adult dogs should have a check-up and blood test annually, while older dogs should visit their vets twice a year.

Having your pet’s health documented, especially when they are healthy, will help your veterinarian understand his or her baseline health. As your pet ages, we will be able to keep track of changes within his or her body. Understanding their unique biological makeup will also allow your vet to provide you with the best nutrition or activity recommendations as they age.

What Kind Of Tests Should My Pet Have?

When veterinary professionals speak of standard, routine blood work for your dog or cat, they are generally referring to two different tests: the CBC and blood chemistry.

CBC: Complete Blood Count

This test counts and analyzes the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in a given amount of blood. In addition to red blood cells, the CBC will also measure hemoglobin levels, which is the molecule responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood. Low red blood cell count and low hemoglobin levels may indicate that your pet is anemic, while high red blood cell count and high hemoglobin levels may be a sign of dehydration. These levels give us information about the functioning of your pet’s bone marrow, spleen, and other organs.

The CBC also counts white blood cells, as well as the numbers of each type of white blood cell. These numbers help us to paint a picture of your pet’s immune system, which will provide us with invaluable information in times of infection or crisis. The CBC also measures platelets, cells that help your pet to form clots when bleeding. Low levels of platelets can be a serious problem, especially if surgery is needed down the line. It could also indicate life-threatening diseases or infections.

The CBC also gives us important insight on the color, size, and shape of these cells, which play a huge role in how they function. The information provided from this test allows veterinary professionals to optimally monitor your pet’s health, properly diagnose problems, and administer the best treatment, if needed.

Blood Chemistry

Blood chemistry aims to take a look at the fluid that blood cells move around in. A breakdown of this fluid gives us information about its chemical components and the functionality of the organs that filter or produce these chemicals. Some of these organs include the liver, the kidneys, and the pancreas. Furthermore, this test also looks at glucose, total protein, and calcium levels in your pet. The many chemicals and proteins we look at helps us to build a health portfolio for your beloved pet.

For many of us, our pets are part of our families. They completely depend and trust in us as their owners, and it’s up to us to take on that responsibility. With the joy and company that they provide us, the least we can do is give them standard healthcare. Here at Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, we like to make sure that all pets are taken care of and loved. Find a trusted and experienced veterinary office or animal hospital near you and start off 2019 with your pet’s yearly checkup.

5 Holiday Choking Hazards For Pets Found In Your Post-Holiday Trash

Pet owners should know that the holidays come with lists and lists of potential hazards for your pet’s health, from poisonous plants to dangerous foods. The holidays may be over, but don’t let your guard down just yet. As you take down holiday celebrations and clear out the garbage, be mindful of your dog or cat snooping around in the trash can. Be careful to keep your furry friends away from the following holiday choking hazards for pets and find out how to reduce their risk of choking.

Tinsel, Garland, Ribbons

Colorful and shiny decorations like tinsel can easily entice and attract pets. Dogs and cats who try to eat brightly-colored tinsel or ribbons can easily choke. If ingested, intestinal blockages may occur. New Year’s decorations such as confetti or deflated balloons also present a choking hazard.

Ornaments

The post-holiday season is when our festive Christmas trees come down. Your delicate, glimmering ornaments may not be in the trash, but once you leave them within reach of your pet, trouble may follow. If bitten into and shattered, broken glass or sharp plastic can inflict severe cuts and injuries to your pet.

Electric lights or other cords

Christmas lights from your tree or your porch may be packed back into storage around this time. Pets who chew these cords may entangle themselves, choke, or suffer from shocks or burns if the cords are frayed.

Bones

From ribs to steak, your kitchen trash may be overflowing from cooking large quantities of meat-based dishes for family and guests. Bones may entice dogs in particular, especially if they are seasoned. Smaller bones may splinter and puncture your dog’s mouth. If ingested, bones can splinter and puncture the esophagus and stomach. The PDSA has issued warnings against giving bones to dogs in general, citing frequent cases of digestive tract damage and blockages caused by bone splinters. Be sure to dispose of bones where your pets cannot access them.

Candy Wrappers and Gift Wrap

Both candy and gifts are sweet parts of the holiday season. But our curious furry friends may attempt to eat candy wrappers and gift wrap from the trash. This can cause tearing of the esophagus or intestines.

How Do I Prevent My Pet From Digging Through The Trash?

The simplest, cheapest, and most effective way to prevent pets from digging through the trash is by using a trash can with securely fastened lid. This simple switch will relieve you from ever having to worry about your pet harming themselves because of trash items.

How Do I Know If My Pet Is Choking?

Being able to identify signs of choking in your dog or cat is extremely important. The most common signs include extreme distress, drooling, and pawing at the mouth. You may also see gagging, retching, and blue skin.

If you suspect your dog or cat might be choking, examine their mouth and pull their tongue forward. If you can see something at the back of the throat, try to remove it with your fingers or tweezers. If this does not work, attempt the Heimlich Maneuver. Call a trusted and nearby animal hospital with emergency services, like Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, as soon as possible.

How To Prevent Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Even the word “heartworms” may make you feel squeamish and uncomfortable. You may have heard of them before, but do you know enough to help prevent heartworm disease in your furry friend? If you want to ensure the health of your pet, read on to learn more about heartworm disease and how it can be diagnosed, treated, and prevented.

What Are Heartworms?

Heartworm disease is a serious disease caused by foot-long worms, called heartworms, that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of dogs. While it can affect other animals, dogs are a natural host, meaning that heartworms can mature and reproduce in dogs. Because they have been reported in all 50 states across America, heartworm disease is a serious issue.

What Would Heartworms Do To My Dog?

Mature heartworms clog the heart and major blood vessels leading to the heart. By clogging the vessels, blood circulation to other parts of the body is reduced. Reduced blood flow to the lungs, kidneys, and liver causes these organs to malfunction. Immature heartworms, known as microfilariae, are much smaller than their mature counterparts and can clog small blood vessels. Again, organs are deprived of nutrients and oxygen supplied by blood.

What Are The Symptoms of Heartworm Disease?

Unfortunately, by the time clinical signs are noticed, the disease is usually well-advanced. In the early stages of the disease, most dogs show no clinical symptoms. Signs of heartworms include a persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue, weakness, and loss of stamina. Dogs with serious cases may have heart failure or swelling in the abdomen, caused by fluid accumulation.

How Is It Transmitted?

Heartworm disease is not transmitted from dog to dog, but by mosquitos. When a mosquito bites an infected dog, fox, or another infected animal, it picks up baby worms. These worms mature into larvae, which are able to enter a new host when the mosquito bites another animal. It takes 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. After maturation, they can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs.

Because mosquitos are found nearly everywhere, all household pets are at risk for heartworm disease. Stray dogs or other wildlife may be carriers of heartworms and increase the chances of infected mosquitoes in your areas. Mosquitoes can also be blown great distance by wind and can easily enter homes. In many parts of the United States, mosquito season lasts all year round. Furthermore, each mosquito season can lead to more worms in an infected animal.

What Should I Do?

The American Heartworm Society recommends that you “think 12.” This means that you should get your dog tested every 12 months for heartworms, as well as have them on heartworm preventive 12 months a year.

Preventative options include pills, topicals, and injectable products. The cost of these options is fairly low, especially in comparison with the financial and emotional costs of heartworm disease treatment. If you want to protect and nurture the good health of your furry friend, bring him or her to a trustworthy clinic, like Cherrelyn Animal Hospital. Speak to veterinary professionals, who can recommend the best heartworm prevention plan for your pet.

Cat Sneezing: 3 Reasons Why Your Cat’s Nose Is Acting Up

We’ve all heard it before. A cute, little sneeze out of nowhere. You turn to see who the culprit is, only to find no one. No one but your cat, that is. As cat owners, you may find these sneezes cute and endearing. However, chances are that you also worry about why your furry friend is sneezing. Some causes of cat sneezing are more benign than others, so be sure to keep reading to get a basic understanding of some possibilities.

Cat Sneezing: Just A Little Something In The Nose

When humans sneeze, it’s usually because there’s simply something irritating our nose. Sometimes, it may be as harmless as dust. A similar thing can happen to our fluffy companions. Applied Animal Behavior Science found that 200 million scent receptors are in the feline nose, which helps them to navigate the world around them. Their sense of smell allows them to distinguish owners, fellow cats, friends, and foes. With cats relying so heavily on their sense of smell, it’s no surprise that they may find particular scents or allergens irritating. Most of the time, a lone sneeze here or there is no big problem.

You may want to take note, though, if your cat only sneezes at certain locations or scenarios. You may be lucky enough to pinpoint an irritant! For example, your cat may be extra sensitive to certain cleaning sprays or perfumes. If you are able to isolate the culprit, be sure to switch to an alternative product.

Unfortunately, the sneezing situation can also become a bit dicey. If you notice a series of consecutive sneezes or heavy sneezing on consecutive days, be aware of the following possibilities.

Dental Problems

By now, you must have noticed your cat’s sharp row of little teeth. Perhaps you’ve even been bitten by them before. But did you know dental problems can actually be the cause of your cat’s sneezes? An infected tooth root can drain to the sinuses and cause sneezing.

Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections in felines are not very different from our version of colds. A wide range of viral or bacterial infections can cause sneezing in cats or otherwise compromise their immune systems and render them vulnerable to multiple simultaneous infections. Respiratory infections are most common in younger cats whose immune systems aren’t as developed as their older counterparts. Cats who have recently arrived in your home from an animal shelter may have faced more exposure to infections. High stress-levels in shelters also increase the risks of susceptibility. 

So how important is it to take your cat to see a medical professional? Very important. The underlying causes of excessive cat sneezing may be serious and can cause complex health problems down the road. Be sure to take your fluffy friend to an established and reputable medical facility, like Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, to get him back to his usual relaxed and playful self.