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7 Cold Weather Tips for Dogs

Despite the popular misconception, fur alone is not enough to protect dogs from the elements. Like people, dogs have varying degrees of cold tolerance.

Hypothermia in pets

Even the hardiest breeds are susceptible to hypothermia. Pets can die from hypothermia, where decreased core body temperature decreases circulation to organs, brain, and limbs. Luckily, hypothermia can be easy to avoid by taking a few precautions.

1. Ask Us About Cold Weather Protection.

Arthritis can worsen in the cold months, increasing stiffness and discomfort. Several key strategies can help keep your older dog comfortable and active in cold weather, and we’re eager to share this information with you at your next appointment.

7 Cold Weather Tips for Dogs | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

2. Know Your Dog’s Cold Tolerance.

Although all dogs are at risk in cold, wet weather, some are better able to handle a dip in temperatures. Huskies and other Artic breeds are certainly more comfortable in cold weather than breeds such as grey hounds. Consider that old, young, thin-coated, and wet dogs are at greater risk for hypothermia.

3. Take Shorter Walks With Your Dog.

All dogs need daily exercise year-round, but in extreme temperatures, shorter, more frequent walks are preferable to extended walks. Don’t forget about playtime at home, either.

7 Cold Weather Tips for Dogs | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

4. Beware of Antifreeze & Sidewalk De-Icers.

Antifreeze dripping under cars can be deadly to dogs, even in small amounts. And rock salt used to melt ice on sidewalks and road ways can cause irritation to dogs’ paws. Take care where you walk your dog to avoid these substances.

5. Some Dogs Need Warm Sweaters or Rain Coats.

Small dogs have a larger surface area for their body size and benefit from a warm, dry coat or sweater during cold weather. Dogs with short fur, even large dogs such as Whippets or Vislas, also appreciate dog clothing. And any dog would benefit from a rain coat around here this time of year!

6. Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside Too Long.

While dogs need exercise, they also need warmth and comfort. Leaving dogs outdoors in the cold make them miserable and some develop frostbite or die. Make sure your dog has access to a warm, comfortable place to rest and isn’t outdoors too long when temperatures are low.

7. Dogs Should Always Have Access to Fresh Water, Even When Outdoors.

Be sure your dog’s water bowl isn’t frozen and don’t use a metal bowl outdoors in cold weather because your dog’s tongue can get stuck! (Think of the flag pole when you were a kid). Heated water dishes are available for outside to prevent frozen water dishes.

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.

Have You Tried Skijoring With Your Dog?

Skijoring (‘skē-jȯr-iŋ) is a winter sport in which a cross country skier is pulled by dog(s) or a horse in harness.

The word is derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring, meaning ski driving.

The most popular form of skijoring is with a dog.

In dog skijoring, also called dog skiing, one-to-three dogs assist a cross-country skier by providing additional pulling power.

  • The dogs and skier each wear a special harness that is connected by a shock-corded tow line of 8-to-12 feet.
  • There are no reins or whips to control the dogs; the dogs are trained to respond to the skier’s voice commands.

Skijoring has been popular in Scandinavia and Alaska for years, but is growing in popularity in other parts of the world. Skijoring competitions are now held throughout the northern United States, Canada, and Scandinavia, often in conjunction with dog sled races.

Many breeds of dogs are used for skijoring.

In addition to what we traditionally think of as sled dogs, such as Huskies and Malamutes, many mixed breed dogs also enjoy skijoring. They are are athletic, enthusiastic, obedient medium-to-large dogs with thick fur and ice-resistant pads.

Dogs who love skijoring live for the exercise, excitement, attention from their owners, and the opportunity to run like crazy in the great outdoors.

Where to Skijor in Washington

Some designated cross country ski areas allow dogs, but most leisure skijoring is done on other snowy trails, fields, and backcountry roadsides.

In its guide to Cross-Country (Nordic) skiing in Washington, the Washington Trails Association (WTA) notes:

“Dogs are generally not allowed on groomed Nordic trails—however, there are exceptions. Some Nordic areas offer specific dog-friendly trails or trail hours, so call ahead if your outing will not be complete without your four-legged friend. Know that even if your pup is allowed, she may be required to remain on-leash. The best way to ski with a dog (when dogs are allowed) is by using a sled-dog harness and a bungee leash system: this is skijoring, and it’s a fast-growing winter sport.”

Have you tried Skijoring? What do you think of it?

Licensed Veterinary Nursing: A Recession-Proof Career that Combines a Love of Animals and People

Licensed Veterinary Nursing: A Recession-Proof Career that Combines a Love of Animals and People

Whether you’re planning a first career or seeking a career change, veterinary nursing may be a wonderful choice if you love animals and people.

Licensed veterinary nurses are in high demand, with the number of openings nationally predicted to swell 16 percent by 2029 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

What is a Veterinary Nurse?

Similar to nurses for human patients, veterinary nurses (formerly called veterinary technicians) are integral members of the veterinary health care team. Educated in the latest medical advances, they are skilled at working alongside veterinarians to diagnose, treat, and care for animals.

Responsibilities of a veterinary nurse are diverse, and may include:

  • Client education
  • Assist in surgery (monitor vital signs or “glove-in” as needed)
  • Administer anesthesia
  • Take patient histories
  • Evaluate and clean teeth (dental prophylaxis)
  • Collect samples
  • Analyze laboratory specimens
  • Wound care and bandaging
  • X-ray imaging
  • Physical therapy
  • Animal nursing care
  • Emergency first aid
  • Preparation and administering of medications and vaccines

Empathetic, compassionate, and hard-working, veterinary nurses enable veterinary hospitals to offer a variety of services.

Licensed Veterinary Nursing: A Recession-Proof Career that Combines a Love of Animals and People

How to Prepare for a Career in Veterinary Nursing

A licensed veterinary nurse is sometimes referred to as a veterinary technician or technologist, depending on the degree.

There are a variety of two-year, three-year, and four-year veterinary nursing degree programs. Upon completion, the student earns an Associate of Applied Science degree (2 or 3-year program) or Bachelor of Science degree (4-year program). Students attending in-person programs can usually work part-time while attending college.

Accredited In-Person Programs in Washington

  • Bellingham Technical College
  • Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom
  • Pima Medical Institute in Renton (and Seattle)
  • Yakima Valley College

Online Programs

In addition to in-person programs, one might consider one of several online veterinary nursing education programs instead. The online programs provide more schedule flexibility and allow students to complete the program at their own pace. Online programs are not for all personal learning styles, but cost approximately half the cost of an in-person program and allow for part-time or full-time employment while attending school.

Accredited Online Programs

Visit the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for a state-by-state list of accredited online programs.

Obtaining an Entry-Level Position as a Licensed Veterinary Nurse

To obtain an entry-level position as a licensed veterinary nurse in Washington State, candidates need to:

For specific Washington certification and licensing requirements, visit the Washington State Veterinary Board of Governors.

5 Fun (and Funny) Ways to Help Your Senior Cat Exercise

Unlike their human counterparts, cats don’t look in the mirror and vow to lose weight and get in shape.

5 Fun (and Funny) Ways to Help Your Senior Cat Exercise | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

As cats enter their senior years, they become more sedentary, which makes them more prone to obesity. That, in turn, puts them at risk of serious medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoarthritis.

To help your senior cat get moving, try these 5 enticements:

1. Toys

5 Fun (and Funny) Ways to Help Your Senior Cat Exercise | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

What kind of toys does your cat like?

  • Squeaky mice?
  • Funky feathers?
  • Dangly doodads?
  • Twirly tops?
  • Boxes or bags to hide in?
  • Ping-pong balls?
  • Crinkled-up pieces of paper?

As long as the toy interests her (and is safe for cats), she’ll likely play with it.

2. Exercise Wheel or Treadmill

There are exercise wheels made specifically for cats (they look like giant hamster wheels). You can also train your cat to walk/jog/run on a human treadmill, as shown in this hilarious video.

Begin the personal training when your kitty is young, if possible. Start at a slow speed and gradually increase the pace.

3. Cat Towers and Trees

Multi-tiered towers give your kitty lots of options for climbing, jumping, and playing. To encourage movement, place small treats in different parts of the tower (particularly high up).

4. A-Maze-Ing Hockey

Build a DIY hockey rink by putting a ping-pong ball inside a large cardboard box. Or cut holes in a bunch of boxes and create a maze, as in this video. Your cat (and the crowd) will go wild!

5. Take a Walk Outside

There’s lots of fun stuff to smell and explore outdoors, and some cats love to walk with a leash and soft harness. Others, not so much. But training your cat to walk with a leash is doable.

This video demonstrates how to help your cat get accustomed to a harness and shows cat moms (attempting to) walk their cats, with varying success.

We’d love to hear about exercises that work best for your senior kitty.

If you’re not sure which exercises are safe and appropriate, come and visit us. During your cat’s examination, we’ll check for physical constraints or health issues that may limit her ability to do certain exercises. And we’ll help you design an exercise regimen that’s purrrfect for your cat.

More Articles About Senior Cats

A ‘Senior Cat’ Q and A with Dr. Laura Monahan

Why is My Older Cat Meowing or Crying at Night?

Is My Cat a Senior? How to Care for an Aging Cat

4 Important Decisions to Make Before Adopting a Dog

In Part 1 of this series, we explored whether to adopt a puppy or an adult dog.

We asked several questions to help you assess the type of canine companion that will best fit your lifestyle, energy level, and schedule.

Whether you welcome a puppy or adult dog into your family, your new pet will likely be scared, anxious, or cautious. During the transition period, be extra patient and be prepared to do extensive training (or retraining).

Put yourself in your dog’s shoes – er – paws.

Imagine that you’ve just moved into a new home in a place you’ve never been before, and are being cared for by people you’ve never met. That scenario is both exciting and stress-inducing.

Resist the temptation to invite your family and friends over to meet your new fur baby, as this can overstimulate and overwhelm your dog. Instead, give your dog time – anywhere from days to weeks – to get used to the new sights, smells, and sounds and to bond with you.

The settling-in period will be exhausting for your dog, so give them a quiet, private place to take extra naps and get comfortable with their new surroundings.

Before your dog comes home, make the following four decisions:

 

1. Where will my dog sleep?

 

Create a safe, cozy doggy den dedicated solely to your dog. This may be a blocked-off area, room, or a sofa. It may be a crate.

About half of all pet owners share their bedroom or bed with their dog.

While your dog will likely be delighted to co-sleep with you, before establishing that habit, understand that it may aggravate your allergies.

Dogs are lighter sleepers than humans with an average of three wake/sleep cycles per nighttime hour. Humans, on the other hand, have one sleep cycle every 24 hours. Co-sleeping with your dog, while comforting to both of you, may negatively affect the quality of your sleep.

2. Where will my dog eat and drink?

 

Designate a feeding area that is not a high-traffic location – perhaps near your dog’s crate or in a quiet corner, away from children and other pets. Dogs can be protective of their food, and you don’t want them to become aggressive about guarding it.

Since dogs are messy eaters, it’s wise to feed them in a non-carpeted area. Put an easy-clean mat beneath their food and water bowls.

After your dog finishes eating, remove and thoroughly clean the feeding dish. Be sure to replenish the water bowl with fresh water throughout the day.

3. Where will my dog go potty?

 

Whether you adopt a puppy or adult dog, expect accidents during the first few weeks. Sudden dietary changes, combined with the stress of a new environment, may cause an upset stomach or diarrhea.

Your new dog will likely need house training or re-training. They will need to go after waking, eating, playing, and getting excited. During the adjustment period, take your dog out more often than usual to decrease the likelihood of accidents.

Puppies and younger dogs may need to go every hour at first, and they’ll want to defecate 5-to-30 minutes after eating.

By the age of three or four months, most puppies will be able to make it 7-8 hours without a bathroom trip.

All dogs should have a bowel movement at least once a day – many have them three times a day.

Whenever you take your dog on a potty walk, bring waste bags and promptly clean up their mess.

If you have a specific spot you want your dog to use as a toilet, take them on a leash to that spot and say a cue word. Stay with your dog in that spot until they go, and then offer a reward.

4. Where will my dog play?

 

Depending on their size, dogs generally need between 30 minutes and two hours of active playtime and exercise each day. Active play keeps your dog’s heart and brain healthy, lubricates joints, and improves balance and coordination.

Like humans, each dog has preferences about the way they play.

Before your new dog comes home, invest safe dog toys. 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.

Designate a doggy play area, whether that’s a room in your home, a hallway, and/or your yard or an off-leash dog park (this article includes links to some local dog parks).

Dogs thrive on routine, so choosing a consistent time to sleep, eat, take potty breaks, and play will help your furry family member feel secure and welcome in your home.

Related Articles on Our Blog:

6 Steps to Introduce a New Dog to Your Current Dog

15 Tips for Socializing Your Puppy in a Socially Distant World

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide

The cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL (called the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL in humans) is a very important ligament in the stifle (knee) joint in pets.

This tiny ligament’s job, along with the caudal cruciate ligament and collateral ligaments, is to stabilize the stifle joint where the femur (thigh) and tibia (shin) bones meet. Because cats and dogs stand on 4 limbs, the angle of their stifle joints put constant stress on the CCL, even while only standing.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Cranial cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common orthopedic injuries in dogs.

Some cases of CCL rupture occur acutely – from trauma such as a fall, stepping in a hole, hit-by-car, or other high-force injury to the stifle.

However, most CCL ruptures are caused by slow, gradual degeneration of the ligament. Rupture may be partial or complete. In many cases, it starts as a partial tear and progresses to a full rupture of the ligament over time.

Following the rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament, the stifle becomes unstable. When the dog or cat places weight on the limb, this instability allows the shin bone (tibia) to slide forward relative to the thigh bone (femur).

The stifle feels like it is “giving way,” causing pain and severe lameness. To avoid pain, the injured pet automatically shifts its weight to the “good” hind leg. This weight shift causes the other leg to do “double duty,” putting it at much greater risk of rupturing the other CCL.

Cranial cruciate ligament injuries are most likely in older, large breed, and overweight dogs.

The causes for CCL rupture are related to the age, breed, size, body condition, and activity of the pet, as well as its conformation. Obesity plays a large factor in CCL ruptures. While not nearly as common in cats, CCL tears are one of the most common problems veterinary surgeons fix in dogs.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Certain dog breeds are predisposed, such as:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Newfoundland
  • Staffordshire Terrier
  • Mastiff
  • Akita
  • Bernard
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The injury is more common in spayed and neutered dogs, and is part of the reason veterinarians now recommend delaying spay or neuter surgery for large and giant breed dogs until the dog is 1-2 years of age.

Overweight pets are at higher risk for cruciate ligament injuries

Any dog or cat can tear its CCL ligament, but overweight pets are at significantly higher risk. Slimming to a healthy weight is a very important part of the prevention and healing process after a CCL rupture.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.comAdditionally, overweight pets will have more difficulty moving around while recovering from surgery, which can result in prolonged healing and pain.

A healthy weight and body condition reduces the stress on the injured joint, as well as stress on the other stifle’s ligaments.

Ideally, performing surgery to stabilize the injured stifle and address the excess weight can be done simultaneously, improving pets’ overall health and comfort, minimizing the development of severe arthritis, decreasing the risk of similar injury to the other hind leg, and getting them on the road to recovery as soon as possible. If your pet is overweight, our doctors would be happy to work with you develop a plan to help him/her slim down to a healthy weight.

How we diagnose CCL injuries

Typically, lameness is diagnosed with:

  • A thorough medical history
  • Complete physical exam and gait analysis
  • Radiographs (X-rays)
  • Lyme disease test

Often, when assessing a stifle injury, pets require a brief sedation to allow the doctor to manipulate the painful stifle. This manipulation is called the cranial drawer test and is used to assess for excessive joint laxity.

Radiographs are used to evaluate the stifle for signs of joint laxity, increased joint fluid, arthritis, and other potential – but much less common – disease processes that can cause similar lameness and pain, such as bone cancer.

A test for Lyme disease, which can cause lameness through joint inflammation, is also warranted.

A new diagnostic option: Orthopedic Ultrasound

An exciting new branch of ultrasound technology is gaining acceptance for smaller animals — orthopedic ultrasound. First used in equine medicine, it allows veterinarians to study injuries to muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints in a completely non-invasive and non-painful way. It’s particularly helpful when the cause of a lameness isn’t 100% obvious on physical exam.

Orthopedic ultrasound is more sensitive for soft tissue injuries than radiographs, which are better for evaluating bones. In addition, ultrasound costs less than MRIs and CAT scans and doesn’t require anesthesia. At worst, a patient may need light sedation to perform the ultrasound.

Ultrasound allows the doctor to “see” ligaments, tendons, muscles, and cartilage, guiding the recommended treatment plan. It can be used to determine if an ACL is completely torn, requiring surgery, or only partially damaged, which may heal with strict adherence to an 8-week rest and therapy plan. It can also be used to monitor the healing of a tendon or a ligament.

TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR REPAIRING TORN CCLs

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Surgical Options – Most Common Choice

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, or TPLO, is by far the most common cruciate surgical repair technique used in dogs. TPLO involves improving the biomechanics of the stifle by changing the angle of the top of the shin bone, called the tibial plateau.

In this technique, the top of the tibia is cut, rotated, and stabilized in place with surgical plates and screws. The change in the angle of the tibial plateau makes the stifle feel stable to the dog when weight-bearing, despite the ruptured ligament.

The success rate of TPLO surgery is high, with most dogs returning to normal or almost normal function. In one study, 98% of owners reported excellent, very good, or good outcomes. Because of the high degree of success, it has become the treatment of choice in large-breed and/or athletic dogs.

The most common complications with TPLO surgery include infection (approximately 6%) and implant loosening or failure.

Another surgical approach to CCL repair includes the Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA). The TTA technique is sometimes used an alternative to TPLO in large dogs. It also aims to restore the biomechanics of the stifle.

Alternatively, two Extracapsular Surgical Repair Techniques aim to recreate the stifle-stabilizing function of the CCL by strengthening the tissues surrounding the stifle. These techniques are usually reserved for cats and medium-to-small dogs. While providing comfort, they are often not as effective in returning the stifle to full athletic function.

We now offer TPLO and other surgical cruciate repair procedures at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital

Board-certified veterinary surgeon, Dr. Eric Hoots, has partnered with us to provide TPLO and other surgical options for pets with cruciate ligament rupture at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Hoots has been providing specialty and advanced surgical care for pets since 2002. Pets are admitted and medically supervised by one of our doctors, who also manages the pet’s follow-up care.

Physical rehab therapy at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital

Dr. Tricia Munroe | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Tricia Munroe

Unlike 15 years ago, pets that undergo orthopedic surgery these days are no longer confined to crates during the recovery periods, but encouraged to exercise in a controlled and precise manner to increase their strength, maintain range-of-motion, and hasten healing.

Appropriate exercises can also improve pets’ comfort, help with weight loss, reduce scar tissue formation, and improve their quality-of-life — who doesn’t get achy and sad when forced to lie around?

A growing specialty, Certified Veterinary Rehab Therapy experts like our Dr. Tricia Munroe provide physical rehabilitation therapy in a specially-designed clinic setting similar to a physical therapist’s office for humans. Dr. Munroe, who is also certified in acupuncture, can develop and monitor a custom exercise and therapy plan to:

  • increase strength in the injured limb or spine
  • maintain joint range-of-motion
  • promote weight loss and general well-being
  • reduce pain and promote healing

Dr. Munroe uses a variety of treatment modalities, including specific exercises, stretching, acupuncture, and laser therapy. She also teaches pet owners how to help their pets exercise at home with precise exercises tailored to the pet.

What about cell therapy?

Stem cells are the basic cell precursors from which all other types of cells are generated. All specialized cells, such as muscle cells, nerve cells, blood cells, etc., originated from stem cells. Under the right conditions in the body or laboratory, stem cells can divide to self-renew and recreate new, functional tissue.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Stem Cell Therapy and other biological injections, such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), have gained much attention in the last few years as potential alternatives to surgery and have created a flurry of research. These “cutting edge” therapies may eventually have the potential for several applications in both human and veterinary medicine. Researchers are developing techniques with the hopes of treating bone fractures, restoring diseased cartilage in arthritic joints, healing ligaments and tendons, and reversing type 1 diabetes.

Stem cell therapy and PRP are thought to promote the repair response in diseased, dysfunctional, or injured tissue. According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), “Stem cells have been called everything from cure-alls to miracle treatments.”

The techniques are still considered experimental. Most stem cell therapy, if using adult stem cells collected from the patient’s own body, is considered safe because it minimizes the risk of unwanted reaction. The most common side effects are temporary swelling and pain.

Is stem cell therapy truly effective? The jury is still out.

When used to help treat orthopedic disease, adult stem cells or platelets are harvested from the patient’s own body (typically from abdominal fat, blood, or bone marrow). The cells are processed in the lab, and then injected into the patient’s affected joint with the goal of decreasing inflammation and promoting healing.

Stem cell therapy or PRP may help a pet with a partially-torn CCL rebuild the ligament and make it stronger. If the CCL is completely ruptured or degenerated, stem cell therapy may be used to strengthen the other ligaments of the stifle.

Stem cell therapy and PRP are currently quite expensive.

We are still evaluating the science behind the variety of stem cell therapy and PRP treatment options available for dogs and cats, and will likely offer the therapy in the future when we are satisfied that the techniques are effective.

CONSERVATIVE NONSURGICAL OPTIONS

Conservative nonsurgical treatment options for complete CCL rupture are recommended less often by veterinarians because they have a lower success rate of returning a pet to normal function and a lower satisfaction rate amongst pet owners.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Conservative options may be considered an alternative when surgery is not an option; for example, when a pet also has significant heart disease, making anesthesia ill-advised.

Non-surgical options have historically included:

  • cage rest
  • extended exercise restriction (several months)
  • appropriate pain medications
  • cartilage protectant medications
  • weight control

Non-surgical options have improved somewhat with advances in physical rehabilitation and recent improvements in custom leg braces used to support, protect, and align the injured limb.

Custom-made braces can be expensive and but may be helpful in small dogs if tolerated – some dogs will not. To be effective, the dog must wear the brace at all times. Lack of comfort and skin irritations, sometimes severe, are the most common concerns.

What happens if you don’t repair a torn CCL?

An untreated CCL tear can lead to a myriad of consequences and a cycle of pain, decreased mobility, and diminishing quality of life due to:

  • Chronic pain caused by joint laxity and the development of arthritis. While pain medications tend to help and improve the limp, they do not fix the tear. As time goes by, pain may decrease to some degree, but it stills hurts, especially once arthritis sets in.
  • Osteoarthritis, or inflammation in a joint. Arthritis is a life-long condition for which there is no cure. While anti-inflammatories and joint supplements may help, they don’t “fix” the arthritis and their effectiveness can decline over time. In addition, as pets age, they may develop liver and kidney problems that require us to curtail or forgo anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Decreased range-of-motion in the stifle due to the development of scar tissue. Without surgery to stabilize the wobbly stifle, the body attempts to create stability with scar tissue. Unfortunately, this scar tissue is hardly ever strong enough to keep the stifle stable, leading to pain, arthritis, stiffness, and decreased range-of-motion.
  • Muscle loss and weakness in the injured leg due to lack of use. Pets with an ACL tear move a lot less overall. And when they do move, they will shift their weight to the other three limbs and carry the injured limb. It’s the use-it-or-lose-it phenomenon. By decreasing their exercise, they lose muscle all over, putting other joints at risk because of the loss of joint-stabilizing muscles. The injured limb will have the post pronounced muscle atrophy.
  • Changes in gait and posture that negatively affect the other three limbs and spine.
  • ACL tear in the other leg. When the ACL tears in one stifle, pets will shift their weight to the other hind leg, often leading to an ACL tear in the opposite leg.
  • Weight gain due to inactivity. Pets with chronic lameness become inactive couch potatoes, losing muscle, and frequently gaining weight. The added weight puts more pressure on the joints, leading to more pain and more of the consequences above.
  • Meniscal tears. Meniscus are an important cartilage cushion in the stifle. Left untreated, up to half of dogs with ACL tears will end up with a torn meniscus, causing more pain and more of the consequences above.

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.

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

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!

Why Is My Dog Scratching and Licking So Much?

Dog scratching itself

When you notice your dog constantly scratching and licking, it could be a result of itching (also called pruritis).

Because itching can cause injury, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with us so we can determine the underlying cause of your dog’s itch and take the correct steps to treat it.

Itching: A characteristic of many possible skin conditions:

  • Allergies (environmental, food, or both)
  • Dry skin
  • Fleas, mites, lice, and other external parasites
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Bacterial or fungal infections
  • Skin cancer

Why Is My Dog Scratching and Licking So Much? | AtlanticVetSeattle.comWhat to do when you notice excessive scratching or licking

Start a log that details the following:

  • What behaviors is my dog exhibiting?
  • When did I first notice the behavior?
  • How has it progressed?
  • Are other pets in my household affected? Am I affected?

We’ll conduct a thorough physical examination of your dog, looking at both the skin and considering the possibility of parasites and infectious conditions.

When you bring your dog in, we’ll conduct a thorough physical examination, looking at both the skin and considering the possibility of parasites and infectious conditions.

The good news

We have some fantastic new cutting-edge medications for allergic dogs and new chewable parasite preventives.

Cat Adventuring – Why Should Dogs Have All the Fun?

Cat kayaking

Many cats are satisfied sticking pretty close to home, watching the world go by through the window. For other cats, the quiet life isn’t nearly enough. Enter Adventure Cats.

Cats have sailed aboard ships for centuries. Their primary task is to keep shipboard rodents at bay. But including cats in adventure leisure sport activities and leisure travel seems relatively new.

In the Pacific Northwest, families often take their cats camping, an uncommon choice in other parts of the country. Cats accompany their owners while cross country skiing, cycling, rock climbing, backpacking, and paddle boarding.

Given the increasing number of health certificates we write, cats are traveling more often by air on vacation with their families, too.

3 Ways to Keep Your Adventure Cat Safe

  1. Make sure your cat has a registered microchip and collar or harness with ID tags, in case kitty gets lost.
  2. Prepare for the health risks inherent to the area in which the cat will travel, such as diseases and parasites that may not be common in the cat’s home region.
  3. Keep your veterinarian apprised of your cat’s travel history, in case a health concern crops up later that, looking back, may be attributable to something the cat was exposed to while adventuring.

Cat Adventuring – Why Should Dogs Have All the Fun?

How to Prepare Your Cat for Adventuring

Your cat needs the “right” personality traits, such as curiosity and self-confidence, to enjoy adventuring.

You also should gradually introduce a cat to adventuring by allowing the cat to have brief, positive experiences in the beginning, and slowly building up their tolerance for travel away from their familiar environment.

Starting this process with an adventurous kitten of about 12-14 weeks of age may be best, while their curiosity is in high gear.

For more information on cat adventuring, check out AdventureCats.org.

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.