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Thunderstorm Phobias

Storm phobias in animals can pose a very difficult problem for pet owners. Dogs suffer more from this problem. Cats most frequently hide and refrain from destructive behaviors. Pets can show many physical signs and behavioral changes. Their response may come even if there is no thunder or lightening. It is thought that they may be reacting to a drop in barometric pressure or changes to electrical charges in the air. Owners may notice the following signs: dilated pupils, drooling, pacing and panting, increased chewing and possible destructive tendencies, and elimination problems (house-soiling issues). Pets will often show attention seeking behavior during the episodes. They may tremble and shake and ignore commands. Some pets will vocalize repeatedly or try to escape and injure themselves or damage their environment in their panic.

Control of this situation is very difficult. Most animals show signs of storm phobias when they are between 1-5 years of age and the signs will definitely escalate as time and exposure to events increase. Breeds that are more prone to generalized anxiety disorders will often show this problem. There are no hard and fast treatments and medications can be problematic and ineffective. Natural products and behavior modification techniques have been the most effective tool. For some animals, even these methods do not provide comfort.

In the early stages, petting and comforting the animal when they are ramping up into the nervous behavior will often promote further anxious behavior. Relaxation exercises should be employed at these times. In addition, desensitizing the animal to storm sounds can be helpful, but often not practical. Some pet owners find their dogs will respond to the use of a Thunder Shirt which applies pressure to the body of the cat or dog can have calming effects much like swaddling an infant. In addition, an overall calming pheromone called DAP (Dog appeasing Pheromone) or Feliway (for cats) may ease general anxiety that can contribute to and escalate storm phobia associated signs.

Herbal therapies such as Kava Kava tincture, Tryptophan and Suntheonine containing treats, calming milk proteins (Zylkene), and appropriate Chinese herbal formulas can be very helpful in some patients. Homeopathic formulas such as Storm Stress by Homeopet and Rescue Remedy, a Bach Flower mixture can also be helpful. Melatonin has also been tried. These products tend to be more effective if given prior to the anxiety wind up.

When possible, isolating the pet to a room where the storm associated sounds and sights are not present will also be helpful.

Natiional Veterinary Technician Week

National Veterinary Technician week is held each year during the third week of October. In honor of national Veterinary Technician week, we thought we would share with you who our Certified Veterinary Technicians (CVT’s) are and what they do in a private practice.

A CVT is a graduate from a two or four-year, American Veterinary Medical Association accredited program at a college or university. For certification, a student must pass a comprehensive practical and written examination. We currently employ four certified veterinary technicians here at GRVC.

Our certified veterinary technicians play a critical role in every aspect of patient and client care at our veterinary practice. They play a vital role in preserving your pet’s health and welfare.

A CVT has multiple fields of expertise. Like a nurse in the human medical field, they help with treatments and observation of our hospitalized patients and are responsible for communicating with the client and helping with patient care during appointments. They admit patients daily to the clinic for anything from routine exams to emergencies. They are the clients first point of contact for all medically related questions. The CVT will get a thorough history and document it in the patients’ medical record. They will then give the attending doctor the complete history and assist the doctor so that they can perform an examination. CVT’s can give vaccinations and under the attending doctors discretion. They routinely give other injections according to treatment plans.

They are also medical lab technicians. They are very proficient at drawing blood and run them on in-house laboratory equipment or prepare specimens as needed to send out to specialty laboratories. CVT’s are trained to look at blood, urine, skin scrapes, impression smears, and stool samples under the microscope.

CVT’s are also x-ray technicians. They set up and take x-rays for the doctors.

A certified vet tech is also a pharmacy technician. They fill any prescriptions the doctor prescribes.

In addition to the roles listed above they are also anesthetists who place catheters and sedate patients for surgery. Once under anesthesia they monitor the patient’s vitals and relay information to the doctor on how the patient is doing.

CVT’s are trained in surgical assistance and have a knowledge of all the different instruments needed for a procedure. They prepare the packs and sterilize them for use in surgery. At times they scrub and glove up in to assist the doctor with complicated surgeries.

They are also trained as dental hygienists. They perform charting and oral exams, dental cleaning and polishing and alert the doctor of any trouble areas.

Lastly, they are trained in basic grooming techniques such as nail trims, anal gland expression, clipping and bathing.

As you can see our certified veterinary technicians have an incredible scope of responsibility in the private practice setting! In fact, it is almost easier to list what they cannot do: make diagnoses, perform surgery or prescribe medications. They are indispensable to the veterinarian and help to keep the schedule going and the pets and clients cared for and comfortable. If you see one of our veterinary technicians (especially this week!) be sure to thank them for all they do for us and our pets! They are the best!

CANINE Influenza Viruses

Currently there are 2 different Influenza A viruses known to infect dogs. The H3N8 Virus which mutated from the equine flu virus has been a known cause of influenza in the dog since 2004 when it first showed up in Florida among the Racing Greyhound population. The second canine influenza virus moving around the country lately is the H3N2 strain which has only been in our country since 2015 and came from a mutated virus of a bird flu strain seen in China, South Korea and Thailand.

Neither of these viruses cause disease in humans. The H3N2 strain has been seen to cause disease, but no deaths in cat populations (shelters). Both viruses can cause a range of signs involving the respiratory tract lining in dogs: coughing, nasal discharge, in-appetence, lethargy, and sneezing. Some dogs do not show signs of the disease but can still spread it to other dogs. The illness can last for 10-21 days. Dogs with other underlying problems are most susceptible to complications and possible death. There have been no cat deaths and the canine death rate is around 3-5 %.

The virus is spread through the air (droplet infection) and through contact with objects that harbor the virus. The virus can live in the environment for 48 hours and 24 hours on clothes. It can live on human hands for 12 hours. It can take a dog 1-5 day to show signs of the H3N8 influenza virus and 2-8 days for the H3N2 virus to produce disease. About 20% of the dogs infected with a canine influenza virus will not show signs of illness, but can still infect others. Dogs can shed the virus for 3-4 weeks regardless if they are ill or not. The incubation period (before a pet becomes ill) is the time that the pet will shed the most virus.

There is a test to see if a pet has the influenza virus. This involves swabbing the nose and back of the throat. This test screens for several respiratory diseases so a proper and more complete diagnosis can be made. The test results take several days. Treatment for the presenting signs may be started prior to receiving the results.

Treatment is symptomatic and may involve cough suppressants and/or expectorants. An antibiotic may be prescribed if secondary bacterial infections are suspected. An antibiotic will not kill the influenza virus. Prevention is the key to help with any outbreaks. There is a vaccine that will help protect against both the H3N8 and H3N2 vi-ruses. This vaccine is given as an injection under the skin and needs boosting in 3 weeks.

Protection is not achieved until after the second shot. A yearly booster is needed. Protection is not 100%. We are recommending this vaccine for dogs that board or go to places populated with other dogs (dog parks, shows, expos, pet stores, and training facilities), or those that travel with their owners. If you are wondering if your pet is at risk and needs vaccination or to schedule an appointment, please call the Glacial Ridge Veterinary Clinic at 320-634-3558.

Potential Pet Poisons

This article is going to outline five of the top categories for pet poisons that you should be aware of.

 1. FOODS (specifically chocolate, xylitol and grapes/raisins)
Certain types of chocolate are very toxic to dogs. In general, the darker, more bitter, and more concentrated the chocolate is, the more dangerous it is. Many candies/sugarless gums contain xylitol, which is a sweetener. Even in small amounts, it can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar or liver failure. Grapes/raisins are often overlooked as a potential danger, but they can lead to kidney failure.

2. INSECTICIDES (sprays, bait stations, and spot on flea/tick treatments)
Ingestion of insecticides and pesticides (especially those containing organophosphates) can be life-threatening to dogs, even when ingested in small amounts. And while spot-on treatments work well in dogs, they can be very toxic to cats if not applied properly. Cat owners should read labels carefully, as those containing Pyrethrins or pyrethroids are severely toxic if ingested or directly applied to the cat.

3. MOUSE & RAT POISON (rodenticides)
There are many types of mouse and rat poisons, all with varying active ingredients, which cause different symptoms in our pets. Depending on what type is ingested, poisoning can cause internal bleeding, brain swelling, kidney failure, or even severe vomiting/bloat.

4. HUMAN NSAIDS & ACETAMINOPHEN MEDICATION
Commonly known as Advil, Aleve, Motrin - when ingested by dogs can cause stomach ulcers or potentially kidney failure. Veterinary anti-inflammatories like Rimadryl and Previcox can have the same effect. Tylenol can lead to severe liver failure. In cats, a SINGLE Tylenol tablet can be FATAL.

5. HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS – sprays, detergents, polishes
Certain cleaners pose a high risk because of their corrosive nature, including: toilet bowl cleaners, lye, drain cleaners, rust removers, and calcium/lime removers.

If you have questions about other potential hazards or if your pet has ingested a poisonous substance, please give us a call at Glacial Ridge Veterinary Clinic at 320-634-3558. The Pet Poison Helpline is also available 24/7 to help pet owners deal with a poisoned pet – 1-800-213-6680.