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Why Does My Dog Chew?

Why Does My Dog Chew? | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dogs use their mouths a lot like humans use their hands. Their sense of touch is experienced through their mouths; they love to chew on toys, treats, clothing, shoes, furniture, sticks, bones, etc.

Some chewing is natural, such as when puppies are teething or dogs are playing “fetch.”

Some chewing is destructive. And some is darn dangerous and can lead to broken teeth, lacerations, foreign bodies, electrical shock, etc.

Learn more about why dogs chew, how to analyze whether your dog has a chewing problem, and when to intervene if you suspect excessive or destructive chewing.

Should I Keep My Cat Indoors or Allow Him to Roam Outdoors?

Letting cats roam outdoors is a hot topic, for sure.

Should I Keep My Cat Indoors or Allow Him to Roam Outdoors? | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

For years, bird lovers and cat lovers have clashed over whether cats, not native to the U.S., should be allowed to roam. Cats that live in the wild or indoor pets allowed to roam outdoors kill from 1.4 -3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year. Wow!

Outdoor cats are also exposed to significant dangers – cars, coyotes, raccoons, dogs, parasites, poisons – and tend to die at an earlier age. The average lifespan for an outdoor cat is 3 to 5 years.

Indoor cats live longer (13-17 years, on average), but face more issues with boredom and obesity, which can lead to behavioral and medical issues.

It’s important to make an informed decision about whether to keep your cat indoors or outdoors. This article at Pet Health Network helps you weigh the pros and cons.

Catios and Cat Yards

If your cat wants to go outdoors but you want to keep kitty safe, consider a catio or cat yard.

An abundance of alternative designs abound for homeowners, renters, and apartment dwellers, from do-it-yourself designs to kits from companies like Purrfect Fence. These ingeneous enclosures allow cats to enjoy sunshine and fresh air, work out their wiggles with exercise, and keep their hunter minds sharp – without putting them or wildlife at risk.

Here are some ideas, and here are a few more.

5 Ways to Give Your Dog Mental Exercise

Proper physical exercise for dogs is important to their overall physical and mental well-being.

5 Ways to Give Your Dog Mental Exercise | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Environmental enrichment, or “mental exercise,” is often overlooked, but just as important! In fact, at the Seattle Zoo, making sure animals have fun is serious business. Animals that are bored, with little mental and environmental stimulation, develop mild-to-severe behavioral problems.

Providing your dog with “mental exercise” is easy and fun. Our friends at Pet Health Network share five great ways you can challenge your dog’s mind. Click here to read the full article.

  1. Behavior training
  2. “Outside the box” training classes
  3. Sensory walks
  4. Games, toys, and puzzles
  5. Running errands

How the Solar Eclipse May Affect Your Pet

The Great American Eclipse is August 21, 2017. During the total solar eclipse, the moon will pass between the sun and Earth and block the sun entirely.

How the Solar Eclipse May Affect Your Pet | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

In the Puget Sound region, we’ll see it as a partial solar eclipse, beginning at 9:08 a.m. and ending at 11:38 a.m., with the maximum sun coverage at 10:20 a.m.

How will pets and other animals react?

Total darkness only lasts a few minutes at most, and an eclipse itself is silent, causing none of the noise that typically scares pets during storms and fireworks.

However, dogs and cats may be confused or frightened by the sudden midday darkness. It’s generally a good idea to keep cats indoors and dogs leashed if they’re outdoors with you during the eclipse.

Learn more about possible the effects of the eclipse on animals at Mother Nature Network.


Smoky Air May Cause Asthma-like Symptoms in Your Pet

The smoke in our air this summer bothers everyone, including our cats and dogs. Pets’ reactions to smoke are similar to what is seen in humans; their airways can be particularly reactive to smoke and other airborne irritants.

Smoky Air May Cause Asthma-like Symptoms in Your Pet | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

We’ve seen more pets with asthma-like symptoms in the past few weeks. Please keep a close eye on your pets, and if you’re concerned, seek medical attention before any major problems occur.

When your pet has difficulty breathing…

Learn more about the signs of difficult breathing in pets at Pet Health Network. Some key points from the article:

  • Difficulty breathing is not the same as a shortness of breath
  • Signs a pet shows when they are having difficulty breathing
  • Look-alike issues that may be causing difficult breathing
  • How your veterinarian can help your pet breathe
  • The prognosis for difficult breathing

Why is My Older Cat Meowing or Crying at Night?

Do you have a senior kitty who keeps you up at night with meowing?

Why is this happening?

Why is My Older Cat Meowing or Crying at Night? | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Frankly, we start out with a bit of a mismatch. Cats are a crepuscular species, meaning they are naturally most active at dawn and dusk and they sleep in the middle of the day and night. Humans are diurnal. We do most of our activities during daylight hours and sleep at night.

In the summer, when our daylight is longer, dawn comes earlier. Birds starting chirping about 4am. Neighbors may be leaving for an early shift at work. If we’re gone all day, our indoor cats may spend the day lounging and napping, which decreases their need for sleep at night. Increasing cats’ exercise during the day through play can help improve their sleep at night.

Kitty insomnia

As cats age, health issues can arise that can cause kitty insomnia. Among those are hyperthyroidism, which revs a cat’s metabolism, making them anxious and ravenous.

Other common causes are pain from arthritis, dental disease, or a headache caused by high blood pressure.

Old-age kitty dementia and hearing loss can also contribute, triggering confusion and fear.

Improving a cat’s sleep habits

Diagnosing the underlying cause includes a thorough physical exam, blood pressure screening, and some routine lab tests.

Fortunately, we can often improve a kitty’s sleep habits by addressing the condition causing the problem and suggesting some simple lifestyle changes, allowing everyone can get back to sleep.

Why Are My Dog’s Eyes Red?

The causes of bloodshot or red eyes in dogs vary considerably, from mild allergies to sight-robbing health conditions, to serious systemic infections.

Hay fever and allergies

When the pollen count is high, dogs can suffer from “hay fever” and allergies just like humans, causing mild-to-moderate inflammation and itchiness of the tissues surrounding the eyeball.

Why Are My Dog’s Eyes Red? | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Rinsing may help

Sometimes, gently rinsing a dog’s eyes with sterile eye wash from the drug store is all it takes to provide comfort.

However, allergic dogs can be so uncomfortable they rub their eyes, introducing bacteria and causing infection and/or scratching the cornea (the clear tissue at the front of the eye), causing a painful abrasion. These abrasions can be superficial and heal quickly with treatment. Left untreated, they can become deep, occasionally causing a dog’s eyeball to rupture. Best to have us check it out.

Pink eye

Contagious eye infections, often called “pink eye,” are caused by a bacteria or virus. Pink eye is not uncommon in social dogs that frequent doggie day cares, dog parks, and sometimes grooming salons.

These infections may be contagious to humans – another great reason to bring your dog in to see us right away.

Eyelashes growing inside the eyelid

Anything rubbing on the eyeball can cause inflammation and discomfort, and lead to secondary problems such as infection and corneal abrasions. Sometimes, a tiny eyelash starts to grow on the inside of the eyelid, causing irritation.

Other times, a Meibomian gland in the lash line goes rogue and grows into a mass that rubs on the eye.

Health conditions

Sight-robbing health conditions such as glaucoma (increased pressure within the eyeball), high blood pressure, uveitis (inflammation within the eyeball itself), trauma to the eye or head, and “dry eye” (an autoimmune disease) can cause severe inflammation and need to be addressed right away. Left untreated, blindness can ensue.

Canine influenza and distemper

Serious upper respiratory infections, such as canine influenza and canine distemper, also cause dogs’ eyes to be red. These infections will be accompanied by a fever and other symptoms, and make dogs very ill.

Red eyes can be a symptom of a serious systemic disease, so a complete physical exam and sometimes laboratory tests are an important part of determining the cause and treatment.

Why Is My Cat Peeing on Laundry?

Inappropriate urination is the leading cause of cats being surrendered to shelters. While there are a number of underlying causes, they can generally be broken down into medical causes, behavioral causes, or a combination of the two.

Why Is My Cat Peeing on Laundry? | AtlanticVetSeattle.comMedical causes

When cats choose somewhere besides their litter boxes to urinate, veterinarians look for health concerns such as such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, crystals in the urine (a potentially life-threatening situation in male cats), bladder stones, or bladder inflammation caused by an infection or even stress.

Laundry on the floor offers a soft, welcoming place to try to relive the pain. This pain can lead to behavioral-inappropriate urination due to a learned aversion to the “offending” litter box seen as the source of pain by the cat.

Behavioral causes

Conversely, behavior may be the underlying cause of inappropriate urination in and of itself. Domestic cats are very, very closely related to wild cats who live in groups of related female cats, roaming and defending territories of about 10 acres.

We humans, who love them, often force them into unnatural situations where they feel crowded, bored, or anxious.  Squabbling between cats or a dog, strangers in the home, noise, or a scary event that occurred while they were using the litter box (intimidation by another cat or a washing machine buzzer, for example) can also be the underlying cause.

Litter box causes

Other times, the litter box isn’t up to a cat’s standards (think Port-o-Potty at a trailhead in August) or she doesn’t care for the perfume or texture of the litter. Cats do have texture preferences for a number of the things they do naturally, including urinating. Some cats prefer softer substrates, such as laundry or plastic bags on the floor, instead of cat litter (especially pelleted or old-fashioned clay litter). Other cats don’t seem to care.

Two rules of thumb we champion

You can never have too many, too large, or too clean litter boxes.

 You need one litter box per cat, plus one, and one on every floor of the house.

Determining the cause of inappropriate urination

Figuring out the underlying cause of inappropriate urination starts with a thorough history and complete physical exam, including a urinalysis that is run right away (not sent to the lab) to look for crystal formation, blood tests to look for diabetes, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism.

Often, we will also recommend bladder imaging, such as X-rays or an ultrasound, to look for bladder stones and possibly at kidney health.

If all tests check out, we’ll explore possible behavioral causes. Here is where a house call visit from a veterinarian experienced in cat behavior can be very helpful in assessing life from the cat’s point of view.

Fortunately, there is hope for most cats that are urinating outside the litter box if the problem is addressed quickly, before it becomes a more serious medical issue or a habit, if it’s a behavioral issue.

Why Does My Dog Scoot?

Aargh! Your dog is scooting his butt on the carpet, or the grass, or even worse, the sidewalk. What in the world is that all about?

It’s a pain in the butt – literally!

While most dogs can reach their backend to lick at an itch or an irritation, sometimes a rougher surface is what they think will help relieve the itch or pain “back there.” Unfortunately, scooting can have some undesirable effects on a dog’s tender nether regions, causing skin abrasions and creating a mess on your carpet.

Two major reasons dogs scoot

Overly full or infected anal glands are two of the most common reasons dogs will scoot. Anal glands, located under the skin just to the side of the anus (at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock position) make a smelly, oily substance that dogs and cats use to mark their territory.

Some dogs, such as pugs, beagles, and basset hounds, make a lot more of the substance than required for the job, or the normal outflow tract becomes clogged. The glands’ tiny openings at the anus are near a big source of bacteria (poop), and occasionally, the glands can also become infected and abscessed.

Seasonal allergies

Dogs with seasonal allergies often have itchy butts and will also scoot. The itch can be so severe they’ll cause painful abrasions to the area. Fortunately, some brand new prescription medications, such as CytoPoint and Apoquel bring many dogs safe, welcome relief from their allergy symptoms with minimal side effects.

Serious conditions to be aware of

Unfortunately, a few very serious conditions can also cause dogs to scoot due to discomfort, including rectal or anal gland cancer and perianal fistulas. Rectal cancer is very serious and often life-threatening.

Perianal fistulations, infected tracts around the anus, are most common in unneutered male dogs and German Shepherds of both genders. They are treatable and usually have a favorable outcome than cancer.

Developing a treatment plan

A thorough physical exam, including a rectal exam, by your dog’s veterinarian, is an important first step in determine the underlying cause of scooting and developing a treatment plan that brings relief.

When Can My Puppy Go Running with Me?

When Can My Puppy Go Running with Me?“Hey Doc, when can I run with my puppy?”

Veterinarians get this question a lot, and the answer is: It depends.

While vets are huge fans of regular exercise for dogs’ emotional and physical health, we recommend holding off running with a dog until its musculoskeletal system is fully mature.

And, some breeds of dogs just aren’t born athletes, like Pugs, Frenchies, and Boston terriers. These smooshy-faced breeds should probably never be running partners.

Does that mean a puppy shouldn’t run at all?

Of course not, all puppies are going to run – around the house, around the yard, and around the park (only after completing their puppy vaccine series, please). But there’s a difference between short bursts of speed around the yard vs. miles of pounding the pavement or trail.

Dogs mature at different ages

Running longer distances too early and without appropriate training puts a great deal of stress on immature joints and ligaments, making a dog more susceptible to arthritis later in life. The musculoskeletal systems of various dog breeds and sizes mature at different rates.

Large and giant breeds, like retrievers and Great Danes, aren’t full mature until they are 18-24 months old.

Smaller, mixed-breed dogs (30-40#) mature faster, at 14-16 months.

The human equivalent might be Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton, who began tumbling in kindergarten, but required a hip replacement in her mid-thirties.

Here’s a great article that discusses some additional issues to consider before taking your dog for a run: https://tinyurl.com/y7wpzpb9