206.323.4433 2115 - 23rd Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98144

Why Pet Surgery Costs What It Does

When it comes to surgical procedures, your pet’s comfort and safety is our utmost concern, and we don’t cut corners.

High Standards of Care

We strive to provide the level of care, service, and medically-trained, licensed staff we would want for our own pets or children. There are standards of care we will not breach to make a procedure less expensive. If needed, we may provide payment plans for established clients to spread out the cost of a procedure.

Why Pet Surgery Costs What It Does | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Individualized Care for Your Pet

To provide your pet with individualized care, our surgeries and dental procedures are scheduled, planned, and performed individually, not as an assembly line.

Customized Anesthetic Plan

Before we begin a procedure, we provide a courtesy pre-anesthetic doctor exam (a $63 value) where the doctor assesses your pet’s current health status and writes an individualized anesthetic and pain management plan.

For maximum safety and comfort, we customize the plan for each pet, taking into account the pet’s age and health status, as well as the type, duration and severity of pain that may accompany a procedure.

Pain Management Plan

We provide a multi-modal pain management to deliver consistent, reliable comfort using different classes of drugs that work together to provide pain management at lower, safer doses.

A typical multi-modal pain management plan may include:

  • pain injections before, during, and after the procedure for extra comfort
  • gas anesthesia and oxygen (via endotracheal tube for airway protection)
  • acupuncture to improve anesthesia
  • local anesthesia at the site of the incision or dental extractions
  • a dermal patch providing round-the-clock pain medication for three days after the procedure
  • oral pain medications to be given at home during the healing period

Pre-Anesthetic Laboratory Screening

For the safety of your pet and to assist in planning the procedure, we require pre-anesthetic laboratory screening within 30 days of a procedure to assess your pet’s internal organ functions.

We have negotiated with our reference lab to offer a mini panel (sufficient for most, but not all pets) at the lowest possible price. Lab screening also serves as wellness screening for your pet, setting an individualized baseline to which we can compare any future lab results.

General Anesthetic Best Practices

During all general anesthetic procedures, we place an IV catheter and provide intravenous fluids at a rate individually calculated for each pet, providing support to your pet’s cardiovascular system and kidneys. The catheter also provides immediate intravenous access in case of emergency.

Dedicated Surgical Veterinary Nurse

A separate trained and experienced veterinary nurse is dedicated to your pet to monitor anesthesia and vital signs throughout the entire procedure and recovery period. The technician carefully and continuously assesses blood pressure, oxygen saturation, pulse rate, respiration, tissue perfusion, comfort level, and body temperature.

Monitoring is accomplished through subjective methods (e.g., clinical appearance) and objective methods (e.g., electronic systems).

In anesthesia, seconds count. Immediately recognizing and responding to a change in patient parameters provides better patient outcomes, reduces stress during the procedure, and may help minimize overall procedure time.

Some clinics expect the person performing the procedure to also monitor anesthesia, but having a separate person solely responsible for anesthesia increases safety.

Sterile Surgical Suite

Our doctors perform surgery in a separate, sterile surgical suite and are capped, masked, gloved, and gowned. The anesthetic nurse is also capped and masked. Some clinics do not insist upon this level of sterility.

Courtesy Grooming Services

We provide courtesy grooming services while your pet is under anesthesia, including a nail trim and anal gland express (a $50 value) – two procedures many pets aren’t too enthused about while awake.

Padded E-Collar

We budget for and encourage the use of an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) for many surgeries to help keep your pet from licking his/her incision, causing self-trauma, infection, and pain. We have new padded collars that are more comfortable and better accepted by pets.

Discharge Appointment

We write individualized home care instructions, taking the time at your discharge appointment to review them with you and answer any questions you may have before your pet goes home.

Courtesy Re-Evaluation Exam and Suture Removal

We provide a courtesy re-evaluation exam (a $45 value) with the doctor within 7 days to check your pet’s healing progress. We also provide a courtesy suture removal appointment, if necessary, 10-14 days after a procedure.

All-Encompassing Cost Estimates

No one likes unwelcome surprises or tense conversations, so we try to provide an all-encompassing, “soup to nuts” treatment plan and cost estimate. We attempt to anticipate all costs associated with a procedure, while maintaining our standard of care (and providing courtesy services we think you’ll appreciate).

Cost Estimates for Non-Elective Procedures

With non-elective procedures, we may provide a cost range to attempt to encompass unknowns, and we’ll call you during the procedure if additional unknowns arise.

When asked for a cost quote, we don’t just quote for the procedure, as some clinics do, then surprise you with the cost of take-home medications, supplies, and recheck appointments that add to the total. We provide that information right up front. And we don’t cut corners.

4 Holiday Hazards to Keep Away from Your Cat

Gingerbread houses. Turkey and ham. Glittery tree ornaments. These holiday delights can be irresistible to your cat, but they can also be dangerous.

Here are 4 quick tips to keep your kitty safe and healthy during the holidays.

1. Don’t feed your cat leftovers or table scraps.

Fat-laden holiday foods can contribute to inflammation of the pancreas, causing discomfort and digestive trouble.

2. Don’t give the cat a bone, especially a poultry bone!

Cats love to jump on tables and steal things the second your back is turned. Keep cooked turkey bones out of your cat’s reach. These sharp bones can splinter and get stuck in your cat’s throat or digestive tract or cut into intestinal tissues.

3. Don’t feed your cat raw turkey giblets, kidneys, liver, or necks.

Since we’re talking turkey, when you’re prepping your turkey, double-bag the “innards” that are included inside the raw turkey and dispose of them. Raw meats are often contaminated with bacteria that can cause diarrhea, cramps, and upset tummies… or worse.

4. Keep kitty away from the Christmas tree.

This is a tough challenge, because cats love to play with the shiny, dangling ornaments and tinsel. They also enjoy drinking the toxic water at the base of the tree, climbing the tree, knocking over the tree, sharpening their claws on the trunk… you name it!

Both  artificial and live trees pose risks to your cat.

  • If they eat the needles off a live tree, it can puncture their intestines. If they eat the needles off an artificial tree (which is usually sprayed with fire retardant), they can experience intestinal blockage or thyroid disease.
  • If they swallow tinsel or ornaments, they can experience internal cuts and intestinal blockage.
  • If they chew dangling tree lights or extension cords, they can penetrate the insulation around the cords and get a severe tongue burn or electric shock.

5 Tips for Cat-Proofing Your Tree

4 Holiday Hazards to Keep Your Cat Away From | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

To deter your curious kitty from exploring or chewing on the tree, try spritzing a bitter apple spray, Citronella oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon or orange scent around the tree. Cats don’t like citrus scent, so you could also scatter orange peels under the tree.

To keep your cat from drinking chemically-treated tree water (which can be highly toxic), wrap aluminum foil over the base filled with water.

To stop kitty from chewing the bottom branches, spray the bottom limbs with tabasco sauce.

When hanging ornaments, tie them on with string or twine, rather than metal hooks (but be vigilant, as cats like to eat string, too!). Hang your most delicate decorations near the top of the tree.

Most importantly, keep your cat out of the room where the tree is located unless you are carefully supervising your cat!

How to Keep Outdoor Cats Warm in Winter

We’d prefer your cats are curled up at your feet on a cold winter night, but not all cats want to or are able to live indoors.

Here are some creative ideas for keeping outdoor cats (owned and feral) cozy in winter.

Outdoor Housing

Outdoor cats appreciate a warm place to curl up at night. This insulated cat shelter (pictured above) from K&H Pet Products is perfect for cats who sleep on porches and in garages or barns.

Insulated cat shelter

The shelter features a heated bed and two exits with removable clear door flaps to protect kitty from the elements.

Microwaveable Heating Pads

SnuggleSafe Heat Pads are a wonderful means of providing warmth on a cold night without the worry of electrical cords.

They’re used in veterinary hospitals, as well, to keep warm our recovering, young, and geriatric patients.

After microwaving the Frisbee-size disk per the manufacturer’s specific instructions, they provide warmth for 6-8 hours, sans cord.

Help Stop the Spread of Feral Cats

All cats, whether feral or owned, need to be spayed or neutered to help prevent the sad perpetuation of the feral cat problem in the United States.

Feeding unaltered cats, while noble, contributes to the birth of more feral kittens.

Trap/neuter/release programs, such as the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project, provide a safe, no-cost or low-cost means of altering free-roaming and tame/pet cats. These programs help thousands of cats every year.

Obesity in Dogs, and How to Prevent It

If you’ve watched the hit PBS series, All Creatures Great and Small, you’ve “met” Tricki Woo, the chubby Pekingese who belongs to the overindulgent Mrs. Pumphrey.

The wealthy Mrs. Pumphrey is a soft-touch in the food department, ordering hampers of gourmet treats for Tricki from Fortnum & Mason.

The three veterinarians, “Uncle Herriot,” Siegfried, and Tristan, regularly board Tricki at the clinic, where they feed him a healthy diet and give him plenty of exercise.

If, like Tricki, your dog eats a high-calorie, low-nutrient diet and lies around most of the time, he’ll likely puff up like Mrs. Pumphrey’s pampered Pekingese.

Overfeeding is the number one cause of canine obesity. In fact, more than 50% of the dogs in the United States are overweight or obese.

Overweight and obese dogs have increased risk of arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, heat exhaustion, and cancer. Obese dogs also have increased anesthetic risk should they require surgery.

We want our canine companions to enjoy a long, healthy life. In this article, you’ll learn about risk factors that can lead to obesity, and steps you can take to prevent your dog from becoming overweight or obese.

Predictors of canine obesity

Here are 7 common factors that contribute to canine obesity:

1. Diet

Dogs should be fed a healthy diet appropriate for their age, breed, and activity level. A healthy diet for dogs should be high in protein and low in carbohydrates and fat.

You can feed your dog a commercial dog food formulated for weight control, or you can make your own dog food at home. If you feed your dog commercial food, don’t rely on the recommendations on dog food labels; they often recommend too much or too little food.

Ask your veterinarian for advice on how much to feed, and measure your dog’s food and avoid overfeeding.

2. Sugary Treats

Some pet parents “reward” their dogs with sugar- and fat-laden treats.

As few as 30 extra calories per day can result in a weight gain of more than three pounds a year (similar to the way humans gradually pack on the pounds when we inhale high-calorie drinks, donuts, and snack crackers).

When you give your dog a treat, look for healthful low-calorie, no-sugar goodies, such as small slices of apple, banana, baby carrots, broccoli, or green beans.

Be aware of treat sizes. Dog treats come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. But when you feed a pocket dog three small treats, your pup may have just eaten an entire day’s worth of calories.

Chop treats into teeny-tiny pieces appropriate for your dog’s size. Your dog can’t do math – they won’t notice the size difference.

Some treats offer the added bonus of helping keep your dog’s teeth clean. Ask us to recommend healthy goodies.

3. Breed

Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to obesity than others. These breeds include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Basset Hounds, and Cocker Spaniels.

These breeds are often referred to as “food-motivated” breeds, and they are typically very good at begging for food. Since these breeds are at a higher risk of becoming obese, it’s important to not overfeed them.

4. Age

As dogs age, their metabolism slows down and they are more likely to gain weight.

Monitor your dog’s weight as they age and make adjustments to their diet and exercise routine as needed to help them maintain a healthy weight.

5. Gender

Male dogs are more likely to become obese than female dogs. This is because male dogs have higher levels of testosterone, which can promote weight gain.

6. Spayed or neutered status

Spayed and neutered dogs are more likely to become obese than intact dogs. This is because spaying and neutering can lead to changes in metabolism and appetite.

7. Activity level

Dogs that are not encouraged to be active or who live in homes where there is a lot of food available are more likely to become obese.

In addition, inactive dogs often have inactive pet parents. People who don’t exercise regularly or who are house-bound with their dog tend to overfeed their dog or to “love on them” with too many treats.

Dogs need at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Take them for a walk, run, or swim; play fetch, or sign them up for agility classes. If you are house-bound, consider hiring a dog-walker. Exercise helps dogs (and humans!) burn calories and prevents weight gain.

If you’re concerned that your dog may be overweight or obese, schedule an appointment with us. Call 206-323-4433.

During your pup’s exam, we’ll look at some of these predictors of canine obesity:

Body condition score (BCS)

A BCS is a measure of a dog’s body fat percentage. It is scored on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being emaciated and 9 being obese. A BCS of 5 is considered ideal for most dogs. A BCS of 6 or higher is considered overweight or obese.

Waist circumference

A dog’s waist circumference should be measured at the smallest part of their abdomen. A waist circumference that is greater than 40% of their body length is considered a risk factor for obesity.

Triglyceride levels

Triglycerides are a type of fat that is found in the blood. High triglyceride levels are a risk factor for obesity and other health problems, such as heart disease.

Leptin levels

Leptin is a hormone that helps to regulate appetite. Dogs that have low leptin levels are more likely to become obese.

Insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells do not respond properly to the hormone insulin. Insulin resistance can lead to weight gain and other health problems, such as diabetes.

Inflammatory markers

Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation can contribute to obesity and other health problems.

Gut microbiome

The gut microbiome is the community of bacteria that live in the digestive tract. The gut microbiome is thought to play a role in a number of health conditions, including obesity.


When the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, it can lead to weight gain, as well as other symptoms, such as lethargy and hair loss.

Cushing’s syndrome

When the body produces too much cortisol, this can lead to weight gain, as well as other symptoms such as increased thirst and urination.

If your dog is found to be at risk for obesity, your veterinarian will help you develop a weight loss plan for your dog and can monitor their progress.

Create an environment that discourages obesity.

To help your dog maintain a healthy weight…

  • Don’t feed your dog table scraps (often high in fat and calories).
  • Don’t give your dog treats high in fat and sugar (see Tricki Woo, above).
  • Keep food out of reach of your dog.
  • Feed your dog measured portions at regular times each day. This will keep them from becoming too hungry and begging for food.
  • Make sure your dog has plenty of opportunities to be active.

If your dog is already obese, it is important to work with your veterinarian to develop a plan to help them lose weight safely and gradually. Rapid weight loss can be dangerous for dogs.

Tips for helping your obese dog lose weight:

  • Feed your dog a weight-loss diet.
  • Increase your dog’s exercise level gradually.
  • Avoid giving your dog treats.
  • Monitor your dog’s weight loss and adjust their diet and exercise plan as needed.

Losing weight can take time and effort, but it is important for your dog’s long-term health.

Pumpkin: A Dog’s Best Friend

Pumpkin: A Dog’s Best Friend | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Have you enjoyed one of those gigantic Costco pumpkin pies?

Or perhaps you prefer to whip up a homemade pumpkin pie.

But did you know that pumpkin can be good for your dog? (Not pumpkin pie, but pureed pumpkin).

Health benefits of pumpkin

Pureed pumpkin is low in fat and cholesterol, is an excellent source of fiber, and can help combat several common gastrointestinal maladies:

Diarrhea – the fiber in pumpkin can act as a sponge that absorbs excess water within the gastrointestinal tract.

Constipation – fiber can ease stool passage and can create bulk inside the colon that helps relieve constipation.

Weight loss – pumpkin gives your dog a sense of a full stomach, so if Bowser is on a diet, pumpkin can make the reduction in food quantity more tolerable.

Before feeding pumpkin to your dog

The amount of pumpkin your dog needs will vary from 1 tsp per meal for a small dog to nearly half a cup for a large dog. Before feeding your dog pumpkin, contact us to ask whether:

(1) your dog could benefit from pumpkin
(2) how much pumpkin he should eat
(3) what type of pumpkin we recommend

You’ll want to avoid feeding your dog canned pumpkin pie filling, which is about 90% water and has added sugar, fat, and seasonings. Instead, look for pure pumpkin puree or pumpkin formulated specially for pets.

3 Dangerous Halloween Candies to Keep Away From Your Dog

Halloween Dog

Halloween is one of the most poisonous holidays for dogs. We humans leave bags and bowls of chocolate candy out, and our curious pups discover it and gorge.

3 Dangerous Halloween Candies to Keep Away From Your Dog | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

The darker and less sweet the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. So be extra careful to store unsweetened baking chocolate squares and semi-sweet nibs out of your pup’s reach.

The toxic ingredient in chocolate is methylxanthines (called theobromine) and caffeine. Mild ingestion (1-2 mini candy bars) may cause agitation/restlessness, panting, vomiting, or diarrhea. Symptoms of mild chocolate poisoning usually appear within 6 to 12 hours after your dog eats chocolate, and may last up to 72 hours.

If your dog eats a lot of chocolate, symptoms may include a racing heart rate, very high blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythm.

Severe poisoning may cause tremors, seizures and rarely, death.

Unsure how much chocolate could cause a toxic reaction in your dog?

Check out this Toxicity Meter for Dogs. Input your dog’s weight and the amount and type of chocolate consumed and you’ll get suggestions on how to monitor your dog.

Note: We don’t vouch for the reliability of the toxicity meter and the meter does not constitute medical advice. The meter is merely an informational tool.

Keep Sugar-Free Candy Out of Your Dog’s Reach

3 Dangerous Halloween Candies to Keep Away From Your Dog | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Sugar-free candies are also dangerous to dogs. Certain candies, mints, baked goods, yogurt, peanut butter, and chewing gum can contain large amounts of xylitol, a natural sugar-free sweetener that can cause low blood sugar and even liver damage in dogs.

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning may include weakness, vomiting, lethargy, collapse, racing heart rate, and general malaise.

Raisins Are Highly Toxic to Dogs, Too!

3 Dangerous Halloween Candies to Keep Away From Your Dog | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Keep your dog away from those tiny-but-toxic boxes of raisins, too. When dogs accidentally ingest raisins, grapes, and certain currants, acute kidney damage can result.

Symptoms may include vomiting, belly pain, bad breath, excessive or decreased thirst or urination, or generalized malaise.

What To Do If Your Dog Ingests Toxins

If your dog has eaten chocolate, sugar-free candy, raisins, or grapes and is exhibiting symptoms, call us immediately at 206-323-4433. If you can’t reach us, call the 24-hour emergency hospital at 206-624-9111.

Emergency Home Remedy: Induce Vomiting

You can also induce vomiting by giving your dog a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. Mix the peroxide with water or vanilla ice cream to make it easier for your dog to swallow.

After administering the hydrogen peroxide, take your dog on a walk for about 15 minutes. The activity will help induce vomiting (and you’d rather have that happen outdoors).

If your dog does not vomit within 30 minutes, do NOT give her more hydrogen peroxide.

If you can’t get your dog to vomit feed her something she likes eating, which will help dilute the chocolate in her system and reduce the potency of the theobromine.

Keep your furry family member safe…

Store chocolate, foods containing xylitol, raisins and grapes far out of your dog’s reach.

14 Ways to Keep Your Cat Safe on Halloween

Halloween can be a scary – and dangerous – day for cats. You’ll want to take extra precautions to keep your feline friend safe around costumed trick-or-treaters, jack-o-lanterns, and candy.

If you have a black cat, be especially vigilant; black cats are more likely to be abused or even killed during this time of year.

1. Keep your cat indoors.

This is the best way to protect your cat from the dangers of Halloween, including:

  • Candy and other Halloween treats, many of which are toxic to cats.
  • Costumes, which can be scary and stressful for cats.
  • Decorations, such as electrical cords and small objects that could be choking hazards.
  • Other animals, such as stray cats and dogs that may be aggressive.

2. Microchip your cat and make sure their ID tags are up to date.

If you must let your cat outside on Halloween, make sure they are wearing a collar with ID tags and that they are supervised at all times.

A microchip is a permanent form of identification (the size of a grain of rice) implanted under the skin. If your cat escapes, having them microchipped and wearing ID tags will make it easier for a veterinarian or animal shelter to identify them, ensuring that they are returned to you as quickly as possible.

3. Carefully consider whether your cat will enjoy wearing a costume.

Cats in costume are so cute! And some of them don’t mind dressing up. But if your kitty hisses, sprints away, or hides when you break out the Halloween costume, that’s a good sign that they’re just not into dressing up.

If you do dress up your cat, make sure the costume is loose and comfortable and does not restrict their movement or breathing. Avoid costumes with small parts that could be a choking hazard.

4. Be aware of the dangers of Halloween decorations.

Electrical cords and other decorations can be choking hazards for cats. Small objects can be swallowed and cause intestinal blockages.

When decorating your home, avoid using decorations made of fragile materials, such as glass or ceramic. Keep all cords and small objects out of reach of your cat.

5. Be mindful of the noise level on Halloween.

Loud noises can be stressful for cats, so try to keep the volume down if you are having a party or if trick-or-treaters are coming to your door.

6. Provide a safe place for your cat to hide.

If you are having a Halloween party or are expecting a lot of trick-or-treaters, set up a private and quiet place for kitty to hide in, such as a room in the back of your home, a closest, under a bed, or their carrier.

You may also want to provide your cat with a hiding place in their regular living area. This could be a cardboard box, a cat tree, or a tunnel.

Provide your cat with fresh food and water and leave them alone so they can relax and de-stress.

7. Don’t bring your cat to a party.

If you are going to a Halloween party, leave your cat at home with a friend or family member. This will help reduce the stress and anxiety they may experience.

If you must take your cat to a party, make sure they are in a carrier or on a leash at all times. This will help keep them safe from other animals and from getting lost.

8. Keep candy and other Halloween treats out of reach.

Many Halloween treats, such as chocolate and macadamia nuts, are toxic to cats and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death. Keep all candy and treats in a sealed container or in a high place where your cat cannot reach them.

If you are having a Halloween party, ask your guests to keep their candy bowls out of reach of pets. You may also want to provide pet-safe treats for your guests to give to your cat.

9. Keep your cat away from pumpkin-carving activities.

If you are carving a pumpkin, keep the pumpkin seeds and pumpkin flesh out of reach of your cat. Pumpkin seeds can be a choking hazard and pumpkin flesh can cause stomach upset.

10. Be careful with open flames.

Candles, jack-o’-lanterns, and other open flames can be a fire hazard and can also cause burns to cats. Keep all open flames out of reach of your curious kitty.

Consider using battery-operated candles instead of real candles. They have realistic-looking flames, are just as festive, and are much safer for pets, small children, and tipsy party-goers.

11. Keep your cat’s vaccinations up to date.

If your cat is not vaccinated, they are at risk of contracting diseases from other animals. It’s important to keep your cat’s vaccinations up to date, especially if you let them outside on Halloween.

12. If you see a stray cat on Halloween, try to help it find a safe place to stay.

You can contact your local animal shelter or rescue organization for assistance.

13. Help keep community cats safe.

If you live in an area with a community cat population, avoid leaving food out for community cats on Halloween. This could attract unwanted attention from trick-or-treaters or pranksters.

If you see a community cat that appears to be lost or injured, please contact a local animal shelter or rescue organization.

14. Talk to your neighbors.

Talk to your neighbors about the importance of keeping cats safe on Halloween. Ask them to be careful when driving home from trick-or-treating, and to keep an eye out for lost or injured cats.

You may also want to organize a neighborhood watch group to help keep cats and other pets safe on Halloween.

With a little planning and care, you can help your cat have a safe and enjoyable Halloween.

Related articles on our blog:

10 Reasons Your Cat Cries or Meows at Night (and what to do about it)

There’s a reason we call that shrill howling or wailing “caterwauling.”

Caterwauling is the incessant meowing or yowling sound some cats make all night, when you’re trying to sleep.

Why is this happening?

First, we need to talk about feline sleep patterns.

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.

Younger cats, in particular, tend to be more active at night because their feline instincts alert them that the darkest hours are the perfect time to go hunting.

Humans, on the other hand, are diurnal. We do most of our activities during daylight hours and sleep at night.

Mix crepusculars with diurnals and you have a mismatch of sleep patterns. At the exact time you’re ready to nod off, your kitty is feeling wide awake and eager to “talk.”

In this article, we’ll look at ten common causes of nighttime meowing, and suggest what you can do to reduce the racket.

10 causes of kitty insomnia

1. Boredom. Excessive nighttime vocalizing is often a sign of a bored cat. If you’re away from home all day, your indoor cat(s) may lounge and nap most of the day, decreasing their need for sleep at night. Lack of exercise and play makes them more likely to engage in attention-seeking behavior when you’re trying to sleep.

One way to counter this is to increase kitty’s exercise and mental stimulation during the day, and to spend quality one-on-one time together in the evening.

This article on our blog suggests five fun (and funny) ways to help your senior cat exercise.

2. Hunger or Thirst. Remember the “Dagwood sandwich?” The comic strip character, Dagwood Bumstead, is famous for sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night to whip up enormous, multi-layered sandwiches.

Nocturnal meowing may be a sign that your cat is ravenous and wants you to create the kitty version of a Dagwood sandwich to satisfy their craving.

One way around this is to feed your cat later in the evening, just before bedtime. Be sure to fill kitty’s water bowl then, too.

3. Anxiety. If you welcome a new kitten, dog, or baby into your family, your cat may be confused about what’s happening, making them more prone to nighttime noise-making.

This article on our blog includes five helpful tips for introducing a new kitten to your resident cat.

4. Desire to mate. Cats become sexually mature around 4 months of age. Cats in heat have a distinctive mating call, which cat parents often mistake for a cry of pain.

If kitty hasn’t been spayed or neutered, they may yowl or cry in an attempt to warn competitors away from their chosen mate.

5. Aging. Many humans age 60 and up complain they have trouble sleeping. That’s because melatonin (aka, the “sleep hormone”) production declines over time, by as much as 80% by age 60.

As cats age, they, too, experience health issues that can cause insomnia.

Those may include:

6. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) which revs a cat’s metabolism, making them anxious and ravenous.

This article on our blog overviews the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for hyperthyroidism.

7. Hypertension (high blood pressure).

This article on our blog will acquaint you with some of the symptoms of high blood pressure.

8. Kidney disease. Cats who are unable to filter waste from their body may experience painful conditions that cause them to cry.

9. Pain. In addition to kidney disease, other pain-related causes of nighttime crying include arthritis, dental disease, or headaches caused by high blood pressure.

10. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). As cats age, their cognitive function and night vision can deteriorate, causing feelings of insecurity, confusion, vulnerability, and disorientation. One way to help your cat feel less fearful and more confident is to place nightlights around your home.

How to improve your cat’s sleep habits

If nighttime yowling persists, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. We will conduct a thorough physical exam, blood pressure screening, and routine lab tests, which will help us diagnose the underlying cause.

Fortunately, we can often improve a kitty’s sleep habits by addressing the condition that’s causing the problem and suggesting simple lifestyle changes that will allow everyone to get a better night’s sleep.

Related articles on our blog:

Why Dogs Chew Stuff, and How to Encourage Appropriate Chewing

Dog chewing shoeUh oh. Last week it was the couch cushions. This week another shoe got destroyed by your dog.

What is it with dogs and chewing?

Chewing = Touching

People touch things with their hands to learn about an object’s texture. Dogs use their mouths to feel an object. What appears to be chewing may be, in fact, “mouthing.”

5 Reasons Dogs Chew Stuff

  1. Teething – Puppies aged 3-to-6 months chew on everything they can sink their baby teeth into.
  2. Playing – When dogs play, they love to bite and carry objects.
  3. Boredom – Dogs who don’t get enough physical or mental stimulation chew to release pent-up energy.
  4. Hunger – Dogs on a calorie-restricted diet may chew or gnaw because they’re searching for something to eat.
  5. Separation Anxiety – Destructive chewing can be a result of a dog getting distressed or agitated when pet parents leave home.

Why Dogs Chew Stuff, and How to Encourage Appropriate Chewing | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

How to Deal With Inappropriate Chewing

Chewing is a normal dog behavior, and if you exercise your dog daily and give him plenty of playtime, social stimulation, and appropriate chew toys, excessive chewing will often disappear.

However, chewing can sometimes be associated with a behavioral problem. If you notice excessive or destructive chewing, start a “chew journal.” For one week, note and/or videotape times of day your dog chews, what he chews, and what’s going on in his environment that could be causing the chewing.

Make an appointment with your veterinarian and bring your chew journal, which will help us determine what may be triggering the inappropriate chewing.

Dogs can’t tell the difference between old socks and new socks! Don’t give your dog old socks or shoes to chew, as that will train him to chew all socks and shoes.

To help prevent temptation, dog-proof your home by storing items you don’t want him to chew out of reach. When you’re away from home, crate your dog or confine him in a safe area.

Don’t reward your dog for inappropriate chewing. It sounds like a no-brainer, but some pet parents who catch their dog gnawing a table leg scold the dog and then give him a doggie treat. When you do this, you’re rewarding and encouraging the behavior. Instead, get your dog’s attention, and then redirect him to his favorite chew toy. Praise him when he begins playing with the toy.

Dogs don’t have a sense of time like humans do, so when you come home and discover that your pup has destroyed your favorite pair of jeans, don’t yell, spank, swat, or punish him. Your dog will have no idea what he’s being reprimanded for.

Your veterinarian will acquaint you with behavior modification training and other products that will help you safely deter destructive chewing.

Supervise your dog closely. When you spot your dog chewing an approved chew toy, praise him. This teaches him that it’s not wrong to chew, and trains him about the types of things he is encouraged to chew.

Chew Toys to Avoid

It’s important NOT to give your dog a chew toy that is harder than his teeth, as carnivore teeth are not designed to chew bones or other objects harder than the teeth. These objects can break your dog’s teeth and cause the gums to become infected.

Never give your dog cooked or uncooked bones, antlers, hard and thick rawhides, plastic or nylon bones, or large ice cubes.

Flatter, softer rawhide chews are safer for your dog’s teeth and can be effective in reducing plaque accumulation.

Also avoid giving him tennis balls, Frisbees, and other objects with abrasive surfaces, as they have a sandpaper-like effect on your dog’s teeth.

Why Dogs Chew Stuff, and How to Encourage Appropriate Chewing | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

How Hard is Too Hard?

Here are some ways you can quickly determine whether a toy is too hard for your dog to chew.

  • Tap the chew toy against your knee. If it hurts, it’s too hard for your dog.
  • Test the chew toy as a hammer. If you can use it to drive a nail into something, it’s too hard for your dog.
  • Use your fingernail to indent the surface of the toy. The surface needs to have some “give.”
  • Flex or break the chew toy with your bare hands (after buying it, of course). If you can’t flex it or break it, it’s too hard for your dog.

Puppy with chew toy

Appropriate Chew Toys for Your Dog

Provide lots of chew toys, particularly if you have a teething puppy. Try a variety of shapes, textures, colors, and odors and your dog will find a favorite.

KONG and West Paw both make a wide variety of chew toys, including balls, flying discs, squishy, squeaky, floppy, knotted, plush, durable bones, dental, teething, tug-of-war, fetch-and-retrieve, and more.

KONG organizes chewing styles into four categories:

  1. Teething chewer
  2. Average chewer
  3. Power chewer
  4. Aging chewer

They also provide a handy size guide that matches chew toys to a dog’s weight.

West Paw organizes toys according to three chewing and play levels:

  1. Tough chewers 
  2. Moderate chewers 
  3. Gentle chewers

Treat-Filled Chew Toys

Many chew toys can be stuffed with tasty treats to encourage chewing as needed. You can coat or fill a chew toy with peanut butter, cheese spread, canned dog food, and/or dog kibble. You can feed a portion of your dog’s regular diet from a chew toy. If your dog is removing the food too quickly, you can place the filled toy in the freezer before offering.

Click this link for chew toy filler recipes.

Here’s a recipe called Fido’s Farmhouse Feast.

Three important things to remember:

  1. Make sure all rawhide chews and chew toys are an appropriate size for your dog’s weight.
  2. Monitor your dog when he’s chewing to prevent ingestion of the toys (or of large pieces of a rawhide chew).
  3. Rotate chew toys every few days to add variety.

Download this handy list of chew toys approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). You’ll find rawhide chews, dental care chews, and edible chew treats in various flavors.

Leptospirosis: How to Protect Your Dog and Yourself

With the return of wet weather in the fall, the risk of leptospirosis increases for our dog patients.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and humans. This bacterial disease can affect dogs, humans, livestock, and wildlife.

The spiral-shaped organisms, called Leptospira, are found worldwide and thrive in in both rural and urban areas, including  lakes, streams, puddles, vegetation, and mud. Even fenced yards can be contaminated by bacteria-carrying mice, rats, squirrels, raccoons, deer, and livestock.

The bacteria can live in the kidneys and bloodstream of infected animals, and are shed in their urine.

How do dogs become infected with leptospirosis?

Dogs can become infected with leptospirosis by coming into contact with contaminated water, soil, urine, food, or through bites from infected animals.

Drinking contaminated water: Leptospires can survive in water for weeks or months, so even stagnant or muddy puddles can be a source of infection.

Swimming in contaminated water: Leptospires can also be present in swimming pools, lakes, and rivers.

Walking through contaminated soil.

Eating or licking contaminated food or objects.

Coming into contact with the urine of an infected animal: Leptospires can enter the body through cuts or abrasions in the skin, or through the eyes or nose.

How to spot leptospirosis in your dog

The early signs of leptospirosis in dogs can be vague and easily mistaken for other illnesses.

Fall Weather Brings Increased Risk of Leptospirosis | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

The symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the infection – some dogs show no symptoms at all, while others may experience a range of signs, including:

  • Fever: A persistent and unexplained fever is one of the most common signs of leptospirosis.
  • Loss of appetite: Infected dogs may exhibit a sudden decrease in appetite or refusal to eat.
  • Weakness and lethargy: Infected dogs may become weak, appear lethargic, and display a lack of interest in their usual activities.
  • Muscle pain: Leptospirosis can cause muscle pain, leading to reluctance to move, limping, or stiffness.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea: Some dogs with leptospirosis may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Increased thirst and urination: Since the disease affects the kidneys, infected dogs may appear thirsty and may urinate frequently.

Other symptoms of leptospirosis may include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Eye pain
  • Cough
  • Bleeding gums
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bleeding

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, consult your veterinarian right away. Early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics and intravenous fluids increases the chances of a dog’s recovery. Untreated animals or animal treated too late often die.

8 ways to protect your dog from leptospirosis

There are a number of practical things you can do to protect your dog:

1. Vaccinate your dog yearly during your pet’s annual comprehensive exam. There are several vaccines available that can help protect your dog from leptospirosis. Ask your veterinarian which vaccine is right for your dog, based on your dog’s lifestyle and risk factors. Although the vaccine doesn’t protect against all strains of leptospirosis, it does provide protection against the most common ones.

2. Keep your dog away from stagnant water. If you live in an area where leptospirosis is common, avoid letting your dog drink from stagnant water or swim in contaminated water. This includes water from puddles, ponds, lakes, and streams.

3. Avoid letting your dog walk through contaminated soil. This includes soil that has been used as a toilet by wildlife.

4. Clean and disinfect any areas where your dog has been exposed to contaminated water or soil.

5. Disinfect your dog’s bedding and toys regularly. If your dog comes into contact with contaminated water or soil, be sure to disinfect their bedding and toys as soon as possible.

6. Keep your dog’s yard clean. If your dog has access to a yard, keep it clean and free of debris. This will help prevent the buildup of bacteria that can cause leptospirosis. Be sure to properly dispose of pet waste!

7. Control rodents around your property. Keep garbage bins tightly closed, limit access to food sources, and consult a professional pest control service if needed.

8. Keep your dog’s nails trimmed short. This will help to prevent cuts and abrasions that could allow the bacteria to enter the body.

5 ways to protect yourself from leptospirosis

While the focus of this article is mainly on protecting dogs from leptospirosis, it is essential to take precautions to protect yourself as well. That’s because leptospirosis can be transmitted from dogs to humans (even though it happens rarely).

Here are some measures you can take:

1. Vaccinate yourself. There is a vaccine available for humans that can help protect you from leptospirosis. Talk to your doctor about whether the vaccine is right for you.

2. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water after handling your dog, especially if your dog has been in contact with contaminated water or soil, or if you have had contact with your dog’s urine.

3. Avoid contact with contaminated water. If you are in an area where leptospirosis is common, avoid ingesting, wading in, or swimming in natural bodies of water that may be contaminated with leptospirosis.

4. Wear long sleeves, gloves, and boots when handling animals that may be infected with leptospirosis and when cleaning up animal waste, to protect yourself from contact with their urine. Also wear gloves and boots when gardening or working in areas where there may be contaminated soil.

5. If you are bitten by an animal, seek medical attention immediately.

Treatment for leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a potentially deadly disease that can affect both dogs and humans. To decrease the risk of infection, stay vigilant: Get your dog vaccinated annually, avoid contaminated water and soil, and practice good hygiene.

If you think you or your canine companion may have been exposed to leptospirosis, it is important to see a doctor or veterinarian right away.

Leptospirosis is treatable with antibiotics. The sooner treatment is started, the better the chances of a full recovery.

Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Seattle serves the following neighborhoods: Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Capitol Hill, Leschi, Central District, Madison Valley, International District, and Georgetown.