Decorating for Pets and People
Stinky Breath Troubles
Return of the Fleas!
My Pet has Mange
Decorating for Pets and People
Over time we all need to repair, renew or even just refresh our homes. Sometimes this may be a full out redecorating or remodeling task. It is a lot of fun to pour over "House Beautiful" and "Pottery Barn" catalogs drooling over beautiful pages of pristine flooring, upholstered furniture and newly decorated walls. Maybe you don?t, but occasionally I do! It may be hard to imagine living in some of those picture perfect homes when you have pets. Can that sofa hold up to two dogs sleeping at either end all day while you are at work?Is there room on that desk top for the cat to stretch out next to your work rather than on top? It can be possible to have that look with minimal wear and tear on yourself and your pets. Being a veterinarian I am putting the emphasis on your pets here. There are various choices in flooring and other decorating items that can be easy on you but not your pets. Luckily there are beautiful, functional choices that are both easy on you and your pets. Like anything worth doing well, you have to have a little knowledge and know where to go for good help and products.
I want to focus on flooring in this article. First of all, when you have pets of any kind, you will have some kind of accident, no matter the age of your pet. Pets can?t let themselves out to toilet when diarrhea strikes or they have a bladder problem. So messes will happen. Non absorbent flooring is best for the areas your pet will spend most of the time. There are many choices and they all have good points and bad points.Here is some help for you.
As a veterinarian, I see pets that have become accustomed to walking, sleeping and playing on vinyl, carpet or older hardwood. Then after remodeling is finished, there is the rude awakening to slick laminate flooring. Laminate is a very good flooring product for many reasons.It is relatively easy to install, quiet, easy on our feet, can be damp mopped and comes in many colors. From the pet?s perspective there are some problems. Laminate is slick, and hard for a dog?s pads to get good contact. The dog?s nails typically skate right across the floor. This is like walking on the sidewalk after an ice storm.It is more difficult for a dog to get good traction on the floor even when it is dry.In small breed and young dogs this is not too bad. They may take a fall or slide around, then figure out how to walk slower or with more weight on the back legs to maneuver on the laminate. Older and large breed dogs tend to have more trouble walking on laminate. The larger body size makes it more difficult to maneuver over a slick surface.Many large dogs have had their back legs splay out like a cheerleader when turning suddenly or running into a room with laminate. Some dogs may even fall or stumble and hurt themselves.At this point, the dog may avoid walking on the laminate flooring altogether. Pets clearly feel the difference between the laminate and other flooring. I have had clients ask why their dog is barking or whining at the entry to the kitchen after replacing the floor with laminate. It is because there may have been a fall that caused pain or it is just too hard to make it across the slick surface. They want your help to get them across. You can put a runner or area rugs down to give the dog a path to walk on, but this may be defeating the purpose of putting down the laminate. Now you may be resenting your dog?s need for the runners, or bothered by having to help your dog to relearn walking across the kitchen floor.
Cats either love the laminate or have trouble too. Since the laminate is so slick, some cats like to go racing through the house and take a belly flop sliding along the floor for fun. Now this may not be fun for you the human as you are trying to walk across your kitchen with your hot coffee in the morning. Sometimes it is difficult for a cat to jump on a counter or feeding station because the slick floor causes their back legs to slide out. The cat then does not get the full power of the jump and may miss the edge, falling to the floor. At this point the cat will typically meow woefully below the counter for you to pick them up and help them out. This is where you start to wonder why your cat is going crazy.But is it?
There are other flooring choices that can give you the wood look without the upkeep or cost.Wood imitation vinyl is a very good product.This is not the sheet vinyl that is printed, but actual strips of vinyl that are textured and fully colored to imitate wood very closely. I saw this in a nursing home and had to touch the floor to believe it was not real wood or laminate. I thought ?This stuff has to be pretty good to stand up to wheelchairs and all the wear and tear at a nursing home!? This seemed to be a good choice where there would be a lot of traffic, and possible accidents. So, I talked to Liam O?Sullivan at Custom Flooring and Acoustics in Champaign, and Stephanie resident interior designer at Tuscola Do it Best Home Center to learn more about the flooring. Some facts that came out of our conversation was that the vinyl is directly glued down, preventing fluids from being able to seep through joints as easily as compared to wood or laminate. This is a big help when accidents cannot be cleaned up immediately. The backing of the laminate is wood, so urine can seep through the joints and be very difficult to get out. This will increase odor retention in laminate adding to housebreaking problems. So for older pets, sick pets or puppies the vinyl will be best.This type of vinyl is also very scratch resistant - great if you have large dogs with big nails. Installation and material costs are similar to better grade laminates so it fits into many remodeling budgets.
Other flooring choices that can be considered are ceramic tile that has some texture to it. The grout has to be considered for accidents as well, although it can be sealed. Tile is hard - watch out for dropping dishes - but the slip resistance and scratch resistant to nails is very good.Installation can be more expensive for ceramic tile, but it is extremely durable.
You can always look at areas in your home for traffic, how you and your pets live and talk to a flooring specialist before you make the time and money investment in flooring. It may be best to use a combination of flooring products picking the best looking and functioning product for the area while still getting a great look. You can reach Liam O?Sullivan (217) 356-8742 or Stephanie at Do it Best at (217) 253-8044. Give us a call at (217) 253-3221 or email us and we can help you think of what your pet needs for a beautiful home as well. Comment on this and other articles at my blog ?Know your pet.?
Stinky Breath Troubles
Tuna breath, doggie breath, stinky breath - these are some of the various names we hear in the office for bad breath in pets. We may sort of expect this, but it is not completely normal. Keeping your pet's teeth healthy is not only more pleasant for you, but better health for them.
Since a pet cannot brush their teeth, it is easy for plaque and tartar to build up. How much tartar builds up depends on the type of food your pet eats, how much chewing on hard matierials they do and the pet's own predisposition to building up tartar. Many of the dry pet foods have dental crystals in them to minimize tartar buildup. Rawhides, greenies and tug ropes also help to decrease tartar. Brushing your pet's teeth is one of the best ways to combat stinky breath. Small tooth brushes are available as well as flavored tooth paste for pets. For toy dogs and cats, a cotton tipped Qtip is a good way to clean the teeth. Do not use human tooth paste as some of the ingredients can be harmful to pets. Reward your pet as you have them sit on your lap, or where ever you brush the teeth. Do only a few teeth at a time. Visit our website for a more complete explanation and photos of tooth brushing. We also have a free handout available for anyone at our clinic.
As tartar builds up, infection will start to creep under the gums and create periodontal disease. This infection can spread to the bone, and other vital organs. This is the point where the breath starts to stink. It is important to discuss treatment for this through with your veterinarian. Since our patients can not hold their mouth open for dental cleaning, and treatment, sedation is necessary. Blood tests, occasionally antibiotics other medications may be needed to insure the best treatment of your pet's teeth. Anesthesia is much safer than in the past, even for older pets, now that veterinarians also have safer anesthetic agents and know more about complete care.
Dogs often break teeth because they chew on many things. Small breaks may not expose pulp or cause much damage, but larger breaks can cause pain and problems. It is hard to know when your pet has broken a tooth, unless they bleed. Other signs of a broken tooth are that your pet may not eat well one day, paw at the mouth or drool more than usual. If your pet is showing any of these signs, please have a veterinarian examine them at once.
Usually problem teeth cause chronic low level pain, not sudden harsh pain. You may not see your pet eat any differently, or avoid play. They may be eating on the other side of their mouth, or just avoiding certain toys they would pick up. Occasionally the pain of the mouth makes a pet dislike being touched on the head or face. We may see some pets be aggressive generally due to the mouth pain - this is irritable aggression. When the problem teeth are dealt with and the pain is gone, the grouchiness also goes.
Learn more about pet dental health through our pet library and health articles. Other good sources are Hills and the American Veterinary Dental College.
Return of the Fleas!
We are starting to have warmer weather again. You and your pet can enjoy the warm weather together by taking walks or playing in the yard. Unfortunately, we are not the only ones who enjoy the warmer weather. Fleas are enjoying the warm up too. They are starting to get on our pets again.
Your pet can get fleas after being around another animal with fleas. Fleas can jump from that animal onto your pet. Your pet can also get fleas after being in an area where an animal with fleas has been. Most of the flea's life is spent jumping off and on your pet. Fleas and immature fleas can be found in your home or yard after they jump or fall off of other dogs, cats and wildlife.
How can you tell if your pet has fleas? Look for "flea dirt." Flea dirt is small and brownish colored. Flea dirt is actually blood that has been digested by the adult fleas. Use a flea comb and brush it through your pet's coat, especially at the base of their tail. Wipe off the debris and fur with a wet kleenex. If your pet has flea dirt the "dirt" will start to turn the kleenex red. The kleenex turns red because of the blood in the flea poop.
What do you do if your pet has fleas? Treat your pet and your home. Purchase Frontline Plus or Revolution from us and apply it to your pet. These products will kills fleas that jump onto your pet for 1 month. You will need to treat your home as well. Siphotrol is a flea spray that can be sprayed everywhere in your house. Fleas can live in concrete, tile, wood and linoleum floors. So, it is important to treat all these areas in your home. You will need to retreat your house in 10 - 14 days, to kill the new adults that hatched from their protective cocoons. The cocoons protected the immature fleas from the flea spray. No chemical can kill the flea while it is in its cocoon. You can also purchase a flea collar and place it in your vacuum bag. This will kill fleas that you suck up into the vacuum. Wash your family's bedding and your pet's bedding too. Wash your pet's soft toys.
How do you keep your pet flea free? Keep him or her on flea prevention year round and keep stray and wild animals out of your yard. Flea preventatives are recommended for year round use because fleas can survive the cold weather by living in basements, crawl spaces and garages.
Fast Flea Facts:
One female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day or about 2,000 eggs in her lifetime.
The fleas that you see are only 5% of the total flea population in your home. The rest are eggs, larva and pupae.
Flea pupa can stay in their protective cocoon for years waiting for a host to live on as adult. They can detect shadows, carbon dioxide, heat and vibrations which let them know a host is near.
Fleas can often cause itching, anemia, allergic reaction, and tapeworm infection. Fleas can also cause Rickettsiosis, Plague, Cat Scratch Disease.
For more info about fleas visit our website or Frontline's website.
My Pet has Mange
What is Mange? Your pet can get two different types of mange. Mange is caused by a mite. Mites are microscopic insects that live and feed on other animals.
Sarcoptic mange is caused by a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. Demodectic mange is caused by a mite called Demodex canis. The mite live and burrow in your pet's skin. The burrowing mites cause intense itching. You pet will scratch and start to lose patches of hair. Your pet's skin may also be red. Hair loss is usually seen around the elbows, knees, abdomen and chest with Sarcoptic mange or around the muzzle and feet with Demodectic mange.
How do I know if my pet has Mange? Bring your pet in for an exam. We will check your pet's skin and do a skin scraping. We use a scalpel blade and scrape the dog or cat's skin. The blade is not cutting, just scrapping over the top. Then the skin sample is put on a microscope slide and we look at it under a microscope. We are looking for mites or mite eggs.
How did my pet get Mange? Sarcopti mange: Your pet may have come into contact with a pet who has mange. For example a stray dog who has mange has been hanging around your home. Your dog Ace likes other dogs and will play with the stray dog in your backyard. As they play, some of the mites crawl onto Ace. The mite crawl around on Ace's skin and start to reproduce. Demodectic mange: Your pet has a small amount of Demodex mites living on him or her all the time. Usually your pet's immune system keeps the mite population under control. But if your pet is young, stressed or has a low immune system, the mites' population can explode, causing Demodectic mange.
Can I get Mange? Yes and No. People can get the Sarcoptic mange mites from their pet. If you have a red, itchy patch of skin, call your doctor. Tell him or her that your pet was diagnosed with Sarcoptic mange. People can not get Demodectic mange.
How do you treat Mange? If your pet has Sarcoptic mange we will give your pet Revolution or Frontline. Revolution, the Heartworm prevetative, also kills the mites. Frontline, the flea and tick preventative, also kills the mites. Your pet will have atleast two months of the medication to kill the mites. We may have you bring your pet in for another exam to make sure the mites are gone. If your pet has Demodectic mange we will need to bathe your pet in a medicated shampoo every 2 weeks until we can no longer find mites when we do a skin scraping.
How do I prevent my pet from getting Mange? Keep your pet away from other pets who have been diagnosed with Mange. Keep your pet away from any animal that has hair missing or is acting sick.
For more information about Scarcoptic mange in pets visit the CAPC website, scroll down to the second section. For more information about Sarcoptes in people visit CDC's website. For more information about Demodectic mange, visit the CAPC website.