All of our patients are important to us and we use our Pet of the Month to highlight one of their stories, especially if it is particularly inspiring or we believe it can bring awareness to a condition or illness. This month’s Pet of the Month fills both of those criteria and it hits very close to home. It is our pleasure to introduce you to Harley, May’s Pet of the Month. She is an immediate member of the City Pets family, but we think you’ll agree she’s earned this honor all on her own.
She was adopted from the Humane Society by Bill and his wife, Lindsay, in December of 2016. She arrived on the “Love Train” and when Bill visited her on his lunch break, he knew she would be coming home with them by the end of the week. Lindsay met her two days later, just hours after her spay and it was confirmed she had found a new home. She’s been a handful from day one when she could literally fit in your hand. Bill and Lindsay were convinced they would one day have to bring her in for a foreign body surgery because she has gone hamper diving more than once.
She’s full of personality and energy. On a walk during a hot August day in 2017, she pulled and pulled during the walk while Bill and Lindsay tried desperately to keep her from exerting herself too much. Eventually they decided to cut the walk short and headed home. With her long tongue hanging out, making her look like a crazy person, she made it to the neighbors’ lawn and she decided it was far enough. She “collapsed” and refused to finish the walk. Lindsay had to scoop her up and carry her home. Luckily, she is very amenable to being carried.
We say “luckily” because Harley ruptured a disc in her back at the end of March. At first, they weren’t sure what had happened or why she had woken up crying and in great pain. (When a disc ruptures, it is usually precipitated by a clear incident or traumatic event.) They took her to City Pets right away and she was examined, radiographs were taken (which showed no clear orthopedic changes), and given anti-inflammatory medication. It wasn’t until the next morning Bill noticed she hadn’t moved all day and was sitting in her urine. They took her back to City Pets and Dr. Weinrick tested her back legs for a neurological response. When she confirmed she wasn’t using her back legs, she called Dogwood Veterinary Neurology Center and they told her to send Harley right away.
After an exam and MRI, it was confirmed Harley had ruptured a disc and would need surgery. There was still only a 50% chance she would regain feeling and the ability to walk. All Lindsay and Bill could do now was wait for a sign her back would heal. They were told it could take up to two weeks. About 6 days before her recheck exam, she started to regain feeling in her feet. Harley also started physical therapy with Dr. McRae the same week and her improvement began to progress exponentially. Based on her progress, she was given an 80% chance of a full recovery at her Dogwood recheck appointment. Bill and Lindsay report she has continued to make great progress and continues to blow past milestone after milestone. She has even taken a few steps on her own, though they may be better categorized as falling forward gracefully. Thanks to Dr. Weinrick’s quick referral, the surgical team at Dogwood, and Dr. McRae’s physical therapy regiment Harley is making great “strides” toward recovery.
There are numerous things to celebrate in April: Easter, spring is (sort of) here, and Tax Day. We want to add our April Pet of the Month Rini to the list! Rini is a rabbit, so she’s a serendipitous choice for April. She was adopted in 2012 by Amie and Jonah after they realized their male bunny, Red-who was adopted by the family after he hopped into their yard-needed a partner. They instantly bonded and are truly in love with each other, though Rini is still the boss.
Rini loves to dig and chew on everything, especially paper towel rolls and phone books (she may be the only living being still excited by phone books). She also loves to run short sprints and binky around when she’s in an especially good mood. According to Amie, her feistiness adds so much to their family. Her favorite treats are bananas and apples.
It was after she refused these treats recently Amie and Jonah knew something was wrong. They first took her to the Emergency Veterinary Hospital of Ann Arbor because it was after hours and they understood time is imperative when it comes to rabbits refusing to eat. The emergency hospital noted Rini’s molars had points on them and it could be causing her inappetence. The pain caused by the points makes it uncomfortable for them to chew their food which could lead to gut stasis. She was first treated with medication and syringe feedings of a special diet to get her gut stasis resolved. After an exam at our clinic to ensure she was stable, we set a date to trim her molars under anesthesia to help prevent a relapse. Once the points were trimmed, Rini came out of anesthesia ready to eat! She started eating hay shortly after waking up and even ate some banana later in the afternoon. She’s been recovering well at home because Amie and Jonah intervened quickly when they noticed she wasn’t eating.
*Rini is a very busy bunny and doesn't have time to sit still for very many photos.
When it comes to nutrition, the most common question we get is "What type of food should we feed?" followed by "When should we transition from puppy food to adult food?" These are very important questions, but they aren't the only questions you should be asking when it comes to your pets' nutrition. It is just as important to appropriately transition your pet to a senior diet and make changes to how you feed them as they age. Before we even consider diet changes, we have to determine at what age your pet is considered a senior. The general rule for dogs and cats is seven years old, though larger breeds start to exhibit signs of aging earlier than smaller breeds. This is the age we recommend switching to a food designed for senior pets and also bi-annual exams.
While it can be normal for senior pets to have a decreased appetite as they age, sometimes there could be something else going on. Dental, gastrointestinal, or kidney issues can cause a decrease in appetite as well. If you notice other symptoms coupled with your pet's decreased appetite, we recommend bringing them in for a thorough exam. Your pet may require a special diet depending on their diagnosis. Generally speaking, these prescription diets will trump a senior diet because they are specially formulated for your pet's specific condition.
Some people may prefer to cook for their senior pet at home. This can be an alternative to store-bought kibble, but there are steps needed to ensure it is nutritional balanced. If you are interested in preparing food at home, we strongly urge you consult with a veterinary nutritionist first.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we chose a pet with an Irish name for Pet of the Month (ok, so, we didn’t actually do this, but it worked out!) We’d like to introduce our March Pet of the Month, Bailey! While he may not be Irish (he’s an English Springer Spaniel), his family feels very lucky he picked them nearly 13 years ago.
When his family visited his litter to choose a new family member, he made the decision easy when he started nibbling on their daughter’s ear. They met the entire litter, but this little guy had made an impression and it was very clear to Melanie and Steve this was the puppy for Abby. Bailey was an incredible bundle of energy and passionate about food since day one. In recent years we have seen him because he’s been slowing down a bit. Frequently, Bailey can be found staring out the family’s front bay window-or maybe Bai’s window- where he earned the nickname “Captain of the cul-de-sac”. He actually has a few nicknames, including Mr. Puckett and Bails.
Bailey is also a multi-talented dog. From very early age, he has regaled the family and their friends with his singing along with the piano, especially during birthday parties. His family would return the favor during car rides by singing “Lonely Goatherd” to calm him. Bailey is also a great athlete, specializing in fetching tennis balls and Frisbees. Although at his age, he is semi-retired.
Even though he is older, Bailey is doing great and getting around pretty well. He visits us for regular exams and Dr. Weinrick checks his joints and mobility regularly. He has started an anti-inflammatory medication to help ease discomfort caused by advanced age. His family recently switched him to a senior specific food which helps brain function in older dogs. There is no fountain of youth, but preventative care, a good diet, and a proactive family are a great alternative.
March might not seem like an appropriate time to talk about ticks, but you'll feel differently after you read this article. We're going to bust some tick myths and hopefully help protect you and your pets from the "blood-sucking" arachnids. *Warning: Pictures of ticks follow.*
Myth #1: Ticks are dormant in the winter
While it is true ticks are most prevalent during the warmer months, they are still active during the winter. Ticks are usually buried under the ice and snow until those longed for warm, sunny winter days. As the snow melts, they are "freed" and find their way to animals enjoying the warmer winter weather, you and your pet for example. Hunters have even been known to stumble through tick nests and came away covered with hundreds of tick larva. Ticks pose a greater risk during the winter because their bites are painless and we are less likely to find them because we aren't actively looking for them. This allows them to be attached for a longer period of time and increases the chance of transferring a tick-borne illness.
Myth #2: Ticks smell your blood.
Ticks are often believed to have the ability to smell blood, like a shark. Like a tiny eight-legged land shark. Thankfully, this is not true, but the truth isn't much better. Ticks can smell CO2, one of the by-products of respiration. Ticks can literally smell you breathe. Upon second thought, we aren't sure the truth is ANY better than the myth.
Myth #3: Lyme infections have a distinct bulls-eye rash.
This one is more of a half-truth than a full-on myth and isn't technically about ticks. Many humans will develop the trademark bulls-eye rash, but not every human does. Animals will rarely, if ever, develop the telltale rings. Aside from possible redness and irritation at the site of tick attachment, there aren't any signs of Lyme infection that present on the skin. Joint swelling and pain, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy are the most common symptoms. If pets have similar symptoms and a veterinarian determines a plausible case for infection upon examination, the diagnosis can be confirmed with a blood test. Symptoms for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses can range from very mild to severe with some pets being asymptomatic.
Myth #4: Ticks are only a threat while camping or hiking.
The inference of this myth is ticks are only a threat when adventuring to the deep woods, "roughing it" in the remote, unsettled areas of the world, or traversing through natural preserves rarely touched by humans. Ticks prefer shady, moist areas while clinging to shrubs, bushes, grasses, and weeds within two feet of the ground. They are sometimes found in lawns and gardens near the woods or old stone walls. Ticks can sometimes be transferred in dirt and mulch to areas they aren't naturally found. Moral: you aren't safe just because you aren't under trees. No one is safe.
Myth #5: Use flames, alcohol, or other liquids to remove ticks.
Ticks are infamous for their ability to burrow into the skin of their hosts and attach themselves firmly for days at a time. Many "old wives' tales" exist on how to remove a tick, but most methods could actually make the situation worse. If you try to burn a tick off, it could cause them to burrow deeper as they try to flee the flame and you also risk burning your pet and yourself. Using soap or alcohol could also cause the tick to burrow deeper if it becomes irritated by the liquid. The most effective way to remove a tick before it is ready is to grip it tightly with a pair of tweezers or tick removal tool just above the skin and pull with even pressure. Don't pull too quickly to minimize the chance of the head detaching and staying lodged in their skin. If this does happen, don't panic, there is very little risk of a serious problem. Watch the area for redness, swelling, or discharge.
Myth #6: I'll see them before they can bite.
The most dangerous ticks come in the smallest packages. It's true adult ticks look scary and gross, but this is a benefit to us because we can see them. It's common for us to hear, "We don't need prevention because I check my dog whenever they come in from outside." This is a good practice, but nymph ticks are as small as a poppy-seed (see above photos if you aren't eating a muffin). This can make it incredibly easy to miss one which is all it takes to transfer a tick-borne illness. Tick prevention requires a tick to bite its host before it can kill the tick, but should kill it before it is possible for bacteria to transfer between the tick and the host. For dogs, we recommend giving flea & tick prevention and vaccinating for Lyme disease because neither protection is 100% effective, but they are both better than nothing.
Hopefully you feel more prepared to handle the scourge called ticks. If not, at least you have a few tick tidbits for your next garden party. Don't forget to sweep your yard for ticks beforehand.
Bonus tick tidbit: There have been cases of spontaneous red meat allergies caused by bites from the Lone Star tick found in the southern and eastern United States. Seriously, ticks, why do you have to ruin everything?!
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! We have an especially sweet treat for you this month. Allow us to introduce you to Geordi, our February Pet of the Month. He was adopted from Motor City Ferrets, along with his snuggle-buddy, Bev, (who is a sweetie in her own right) by Beth and Tony.
Geordi and Bev had been at Motor City Ferrets for about a year when Beth and Tony found out the two older ferrets were currently the longest the residents at the shelter. Tony and Beth already had three ferrets at home and weren’t planning to add more, but Beth couldn’t stop thinking about the two ferrets and eventually emailed the shelter to adopt them. Both Geordi and Bev adapted quickly and took very well to their other ferrets: Socks, Deka, and Neuf.
Geordi is an easy-going ferret, but also likes to be on-the-go from the minute he wakes up. Unlike most ferrets (who love the “snooze button” according to Beth), he will snap wide awake and is ready to go as soon as his sleep is disturbed. Right away, they realized he has limited or no vision, but it wasn't noted when they adopted him because it happened while he was at the shelter and he had learned the layout of the room. He has now become familiar with his new home and gets around as well as the other ferrets. He will also use his other senses which can make it difficult to get a good photo because as soon as he senses Beth or Tony nearby, he comes right over to see what they are doing. It also doesn’t stop him from playing hide-and-seek with his soft rattle toys and exploring his crinkly play tunnel.
Geordi was diagnosed with insulinoma during his stay at the shelter and he was started on prednisone, a steroid. Insulinoma is a tumor on the pancreas which causes an increased secretion of insulin and is very common in middle- and old-age ferrets. The increase of insulin leads to low blood sugar which usually starts with weakness in the rear legs. If left untreated, it causes the ferret to become depressed and unresponsive during an episode. Geordi first came to City Pets because Beth noticed he was walking stiffly at times and wanted to have his glucose checked to make sure the prednisone was helping control his insulin levels. After making an adjustment to his dose based on his glucose levels, Geordi has been managing his insulinoma well. Insulinoma can sometimes be managed with surgery, but it can be an issue of cost, effectiveness, and age-related risk.
We think it’s easy to see why Geordi’s story is perfect for the February Pet of the Month. It’s a heart-warming “tail” perfect for the holiday of love AND to combat the lasting effects of the polar vortex.
You can visit Motor City Ferrets at http://motorcityferrets.org/ if you are interested in adopting a ferret.
With the passing of the first two weeks of Dental Month, we realize we haven't been totally transparent with you about dental cleanings. No, we aren't saying they aren't beneficial (read about the benefits here), we've just never shared the down and dirty about dental cleanings. And believe us, they are DIRTY! So, here comes the "tooth"; are you ready?
The preparation for a dental cleaning can begin days before the actual procedure depending on the age of your pet because we use pre-anesthetic sedatives and inhaled anesthetics. If your pet is over the age of seven, we require blood work to give us an insight into how their body is functioning and to look for any warnings your pet may have trouble processing the anesthesia. It is very rare, but we have determined a dental cleaning to be too risky when lab results were weighed against the benefits. This is also why we recommend doing blood work a few days before surgery, to avoid canceling the surgery the same day and to spare your pet the frustration of missing a meal.
Oh, right, your pet has to be fasted after midnight before the surgery. This is to prevent aspiration before the tracheal tube is placed and during its removal. After you drop off your pet, they will be given the pre-anesthetic sedative if we aren't doing blood work the same morning (which is available if you aren't able to come in earlier or you decide you'd like to run the lab work during check-in). After they are sedated, we will place a catheter in a front leg for IV fluids (optional for pets under 7-years-old). The IV fluids help to prevent complications by keeping your pet hydrated and regulating their blood pressure while under anesthesia and during recovery. Once they are sedated, we will give an injectable anesthesia and place the tracheal tube. The tube allows us to use less anesthesia because it more effectively delivers the anesthesia/oxygen mix to your pet's lungs, where it enters their bloodstream and gives them one of the best naps they'll ever have. By using less anesthesia, your pet is able to recover more quickly and with less of the "hang-over". During a dental cleaning, the tracheal tube offers another benefit because it has an inflatable cuff to keep it in place. This inflatable cuff prevents water and other fluids from entering the lungs.
After the tracheal tube is placed, we can finally get down to business. We use an ultrasonic scaler to clean tartar, plaque, and debris from each tooth. While the doctor is scaling, a technician is monitoring your pet's heart rate and breathing. The scaler uses both vibration and jets of water to remove the gunk without damaging the healthy teeth underneath. During the scaling, the doctor checks each tooth to make sure it is firmly rooted and healthy. If a tooth is loose or unhealthy, it will be removed at this time. Some teeth are decayed or infected at the root and may require a dental specialist to remove. After both sides are scaled and all needed extractions are done, we polish all the remaining teeth. Lastly we rinse their teeth and mouth with a fluoride rinse to get large bits of debris out. Now that those teeth are sparkling, we begin the process of waking them up.
As they come out of the anesthesia, we monitor them closely. Once they are sufficiently awake, we deflate the cuff on the tracheal tube and remove it. Then they recover in a warm, cozy kennel under close observation. A dental cleaning requires lighter sedation than other surgeries, so pets usually wake up sooner and have fewer restrictions after the procedure.
Phew, we have to say how good it feels to get all this out there. We are really glad we finally took the time to come clean about dental cleanings.
A few days ago we put together a list-a comprehensive list, we think-of gifts for the animal lover in your life. After learning over half of pet owners are planning to buy their furry friends a Valentine's Day gift as well, we thought we'd use our power of list compilation to help. You can check out some of our favorite pet presents below!
The only thing your Valentine will love more is their pet!
It should be pretty easy to make a good impression on Valentine's Day. Some flowers, some chocolate. Boom, done! Right?
Maybe not if your Valentine is an animal lover with their own pack of pets. Chocolate and certain flowers (or plants) can be toxic to pets, which means you could end up in the dog-house with your cute, albeit generic, gesture of love. Fret not, because we have a list with something to delight any animal lover. See, we don't just provide preventative care for your pets, we're looking out for your relationships, too!
Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis
"Pet Owner Home Rules" Metal Sign
Cat Wine Stopper
January being the first month of the year inspired us to pick a dog taking her first trip overseas for Pet of the Month. A common New Year’s resolution is to travel more and Lorna, our January Pet of the Month, is starting right out of the gate in 2019. She’ll be traveling to France to visit one of her owners, Orion.
In July of 2017, Lorna joined Marika and Orion’s family after they found her at the Humane Society of Huron Valley while looking for a furry family member. They knew the second they saw the alert, curious, calm, extremely sweet Chihuahua mix she would be a great addition to their family. She is eager to meet anyone and everyone, and having met her, we can confirm this! She becomes so excited she’ll wiggle her entire body as she madly wags her tail. During her walks, she’s either trying to meet everyone she can or attempting to catch any small critters she comes across. She has achieved “Expert-level” in snake catching, sometimes diving head first into a pile of leaves and emerging with a snake, much to the chagrin of people around her. When she isn’t using her lightning speed, she loves lounging wherever her humans are just keeping an eye on them.
Lorna came to City Pets in preparation for her travels with Marika to visit Orion in Annecy, France, after he took a physics post-doctorate research position overseas. To help ensure everything is in order, we recommended coming in for an initial appointment as soon as possible because of the many requirements for international travel. Traveling to some destinations can involve even more testing, including Rabies titer testing, which can take 6-8 weeks for results. There may also be a waiting period of 3-9 months required before travel. Lorna will need one more exam within ten days of travel, a specific EU Health Certificate, and an USDA-endorsed International Health Certificate, which requires an appointment with the USDA in Lansing. After her exam and the appointment at the USDA, Lorna will be able to travel with Marika to see Orion in France. According to Marika, she is quite the adventurer and has loved the road trips she’s taken with her owners but is particularly excited to visit a whole new country!
If you are planning to travel with your pet, please call so we can help prepare a general timeline to get them travel-ready! You can also go to the USDA website below to get started.