Pet Names. The good, the bad, and the just plain strange.

I have a cat named Kevin.  My 5 year-old named him after a minion named Kevin on Despicable Me.  I have a dog named Cilia because flagellum was a terrible name!

Celia

This is my dog Celia in her favorite position.  Note that her tail is still when in this position only. 

 

I chose my child’s name because I liked the name, but there is a story behind every one of my pet’s names.  I have found that when asked, clients usually have a story behind their pet’s names too.  This has become one of my favorite parts of getting to know new owners and pets.  When I decided to write this blog I walked around our clinic and asked the staff to think about the best pet names they have heard.  That sparked a number of spin-off conversations all about pets and their names.  Sadly, two names brought up most often were deemed not appropriate for this blog.

No matter where you found him, or how malnourished and flea bitten he was, don’t name your pet Lucky.   Any veterinarian or veterinary technician can tell you that bad things happen to pets named Lucky.  On that note, never put your hand in the cage with a cat named Sweetie.

I have only treated one cat named Toonces in my 8-year veterinary career, and that was a very old cat.  I imagine the more seasoned veterinarians remember a rash of cats by that name after the SNL skit, Toonces the Driving Cat that aired in 1988.  I have seen my share of Katrinas, though.  If you rescued a female dog or cat from New Orleans in 2005, there is a good chance you named her Katrina or NOLA.

The most common pet names of 2013 were Max and Belle according to VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance), though I think the last time I checked our software, the most common male name was Beau (or Bo, Beaux).  For those of you who don’t know, in Louisiana we substitute –eaux for o in a lot of words.

The receptionists get utterly confused when my dad comes in with one of his pets.  He likes to give nicknames.  Often, nicknames evolve over time, so that what we actually call the pet bears almost no resemblance to the name that we have on file.  Our clinic is near a college campus, so we have a lot of college students as clients.  Trying to find their pets in our computer can be a lot of “fun” for the staff.  The owner of record may have been the ex-boyfriend or the estranged roommate.  This is why our receptionists ask “what is the pet’s last name?” and not the last name of the person in front of them.

I came across an old Golden Retriever while I was in vet school named Abacus.  I thought that was a great name.  Here are some others worth mentioning.

A pug named Professor Jellyroll

A large bulldog named Big Tuna

A cat named Chairman Meow

A pair of dogs named Fergie and Will-i-am.  Our staff refers to them only as The Black Eyed Peas.

A pair of dogs found in a Wal-Mart parking lot named Wally and Marty

A cat named Kohl’s – guess where he was found?

A bulldog named Lord Nottingham (shortened to Hammie) and his predecessor Friar Tuck

A cat named CATniss

Guess when the owners found these pets:

Super bowl Sunday, Mardi Gras, Cats named Trick & Treat, Christmas Belle, Noel

Keep Cool and Have a Ball!

For a creative way to keep your dog cool in the scorching summer heat, put several of his favorite chew toys in a bucket filled with water. Freeze the bucket overnight and leave it outside during playtime! Your dog will be entertained for hours licking and biting at the ice, all while staying cool and hydrated. You may also add a few carrots or a can of chicken broth to the water for more flavor; just make sure it doesn’t contain onion or onion powder, as these can be harmful to fido.  Be sure to post pics of your dog and his icy treat to our Facebook page so we can join in the fun!Image

What is NOT a Kitchen Cupboard Remedy for your dog or cat

cat tylenol

I had three phone calls this past week, all involving medications that the owner had GIVEN to their pet.  No, they did not call us and ask, “Hey, what can I give my dog/cat at home for these symptoms?”  They did not EVEN ask Dr. Google!  I am not opposed to giving advice over the phone to my clients about my patients, especially if the problem is minor, and there is something at home that will do the trick.  Most vets are this way – they want to help you and your pet.  This blog post is about me (veterinarian) trying to help you (pet owner) and your pet.

  1. DO NOT EVER EVER EVER GIVE  A CAT TYLENOL!  Not even the “baby kind.”  A client called to say her cat had vomited a couple of times that day.  Yes, the cat was still eating, and no, did not have a fever.  So Ms. Munchausen decided randomly to give the cat two droppers of Baby Tylenol.  Did it help the vomiting? No.  Can it cause a potentially fatal blood disorder in CATS? YES!!
  2. While many medications are used in both people and animals, THE DOSE HAS TO BE APPROPRIATE!  I am sorry to be yelling, but what I’ve been doing hasn’t been working.  The next client, owner of a 6 pound Yorkie, called to say her little guy was limping pretty badly.  She really wanted to avoid coming in for an appointment that day, so she had given 2 adult size Ibuprofen tablets.  Now puppy wasn’t feeling so great.  So what else could she give at home?  At this point, we recommended an exam with a veterinarian.  “Well, he was fine at his last exam six months ago.”  That may be true, but based on the medication administered at home, he may not be now.
  3. Lastly, just as with children, KEEP YOUR MEDICATIONS LOCKED AWAY SECURELY!  The third case was a dog that had been confined in a bathroom, and managed to eat the contents of the medicine cabinet.  Yes, the one over the sink, behind the mirror.   While the dog did survive, she was very very ill and required hospitalization for several days.

So please, call your veterinarian BEFORE you administer any medication to your pet that they did not prescribe or recommend.  It will save you money and worry.  It will save me worry too.

As always, feel free to check out our website http://www.hrah.com for info about our hospital and staff

Technician blog: Your dog ate WHAT?

As a veterinary technician with nearly 12 years of experience under my belt, I’ve heard all sorts of interesting and unusual things from my clients. Not much shocks me after all this time. Which is good, considering some of the things dogs and cats are inclined to eat. Some of my favorite cases involve unusual ingestions by the housepets. Cats and dogs eat all sorts of strange things. We all know any dog would have trouble NOT getting into the trash can where all the delicious things hide; the last bite of your sandwich, the piece of cheese you dropped on the floor, the fast food wrappers that smell oh so delicious.

dog trash

Then there are the things that we, as veterinary staff, look at the pet and think “What on earth were you thinking when you ate that?”. Cats LOVE to eat rubber bands (hair bands, regular rubber bands, whatever).  Tinsel during the holidays, shoelaces, random pieces of string (sometimes with a sewing needle attached!), they’re not picky, as long as it’s not meant to be eaten. Dogs will eat all sorts of silly things. Things we will never understand the appeal of. Socks, rocks, paper, tubes of chapstick. Gross things from the bathroom trash can, underwear, and even a diamond ring. My best friend’s dog ate half a deck of playing cards just last week! Some of these strange ingestions are relatively harmless. You’ll find bits of paper towels as you’re cleaning up your yard, or the crayons that your son lost to Sparky’s destruction on Tuesday. Veterinary Practice News released an article last fall with a collection of strange foreign body ingestions. You can see it here.

There are many things that are life-threatening, and will require veterinary intervention. Regardless of WHAT your pet ingested, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian. Odds are good that it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. Even if your dog ate your “roommate’s stash” (more on this topic in a later blog), it’s very important to tell your vet everything you know about what your pet got into. You may hold a piece of information that is key to saving your pet’s life.

There are ingestions that are toxic: rat poison, prescription medications, even some types of chewing gum. Treatment for these ingestions can vary from inducing vomiting and administering charcoal (equivalent to having your stomach pumped as a human), to days or weeks of hospitalization with fluids and IV medications. Many of these toxic ingestions require a call to the ASPCA’s animal poison contol center. Gather as much information about the product your pet ingested as possible (including whatever is left of the container), and contact your vet immediately.

Then we have the ingestions that may be life-threatening: plastic bags, rocks, coins, items of clothing. Again, the treatment for each ingestion is different. Treatment can range from inducing vomiting to produce the offending item to exploratory surgery to remove it. If not removed, many foreign bodies CAN be fatal. A gastric foreign body can lodge itself in your pet’s intestines, creating a dam of sorts. Not allowing food or waste to pass as normal, creating a build-up of toxins in your pet’s system. A doctor that I work with surgically removed an entire stuffed toy (in one piece!) from the stomach of a dog last summer (seen below).

froggravel

If your pet is experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, or a combination of the two, this could be an indication of something more serious than just a stomach bug. The bottom line is this: Pets will eat weird things with no logical explanation. ALWAYS contact your veterinarian to determine what the best course of treatment is for your pet. We are always happy to have a look at Fluffy, and make sure she’s safe and healthy. Better safe than sorry, right?

Check out our hospital website at http://www.hrah.com

Introducing your pet to your new baby

Congratulations on your new baby!  It’s been seven years today that I brought home my last baby to introduce to my dog.  I have to say, by the time we got around to the third baby’s introduction, our dog was a pro with kids.  It was certainly a different situation than when we brought home our first baby.  Mostly because I wasn’t a nervous, first time mom, but also because we had learned a few things along the way.  Here are some tips to ease the introduction of your new baby to your “old baby.”

 First of all, you have nine months notice!  Use this time wisely, and train your dog.  You won’t be able to train him to not jump up AFTER you come home with the baby – you’ll be busy enough as it is.  This is also a great time to get them to sleep in their own bed, if you want to.  If you feel your bed will hold two adult humans, a baby human, and a dog, then go for it.  Obedience classes generally last about 6 weeks, with homework each week, and can be used to get reliable sit, stay, come, and retrieve commands down.

alg_dog_baby

 Use this time also to prepare your dog or cat for the new sights, sounds and especially smells of a baby.  Invite over friends with babies, play the baby channel on TV, and allow your pet to explore all of the new things that are invading the house: bedding, toys, baby swings, blankets.  One tip I used successfully was to sprinkle baby powder on all of the baby’s things: toys, blankets, etc.  That way your dog or cat recognizes the smell, and that the object does not belong to him.

 Signs of stress in dogs and cats include hiding, taking or destroying new objects (includes chewing on them, urinating on them, etc), lack of interest in normal routine (doesn’t want to walk or play as usual), decreased appetite, and progress all the way to vomiting and/or diarrhea.  Just what you need with a newborn around.  You can help to ease the transition the first time you bring home your baby.  There will probably be a lot of new people in the house, and extra chaos.  Make sure they let your dog or cat out to let off some steam before you walk through the new door with new babe in arms.  It is a good idea to hand off the baby to dad or someone else before the mom walks in.  That way, she can greet the dog and offer some love to the cat before showing them their replacement (just kidding!). 

 Seriously, your pets need to know they are still loved.  Take a little time.  Allow them to sniff the baby and it’s paraphernalia.  They may be really interested.  Or they may not.  The important thing is to try to keep the pet on their own schedule, while you are figuring out your baby’s schedule.  Try to offer some attention and positive reinforcement when the baby is awake, so that your pet associates good times with the baby, and not just when the baby is asleep!  You want your pet to think “Wow, this baby thing is fun and cool!”  and not, “Can’t wait for the baby to be gone so I can get some attention.”  But no matter what, no matter how much your pet loves the new baby, do not ever ever ever leave the baby alone with your dog.  I used to take my dog to the bathroom with me when the baby was on the floor or in the swing. 

 For those of you worried about the possible germs that a pet can carry, you are right!  Make sure to have your pet up to date on veterinary exams and parasite checks.  Most bacteria that pets can carry are the same germs we can carry.  Some food and treats can carry Salmonella and other bacteria, so make sure to wash your hands after feeding your pet, and keep the pet food and treats out of baby’s reach.  Internal parasites (worms) CAN infect you or your child!  Most monthly heartworm preventives are also intestinal parasite prevention as well.  Generally these are passed through infected dirt, so more hand washing is in order.  Face licking is also to be avoided – it is unlikely to directly transmit a parasite, but you never know what your dog was chewing on outside just prior. 

 If you feel like you need some more information about your particular pet, the best source of information you have is your veterinarian.  Tell them your concerns, and I am sure they will provide plenty of medical advice and personal experience.  There are even anti-anxiety meds available for dogs and cats – did you know that?  For more information, the Novartis Growing up with Pets website (www.growingupwithpets.com) , and American Animal Hospital Association website (www.healthypet.com) are great resources.  Also visit Dr. Carrie Fox at my hospital website www.hrah.com, Highland Road Animal Hospital, or on our blog:  https://dogblogandcatfacts.wordpress.com

dog-baby

Kitchen Cupboard Remedies: Itching!!

frenchbulldogpuppy

Puppy Scratching fleas

My dog just won’t stop scratching!

Itching in dogs is a very common symptom – we see it daily here in our veterinary practice in Baton Rouge.  Allergies to pollen, food, and fleas are all causes, as well as infections and insects.  There are some simple remedies that we recommend all the time, and I bet you have some right now in your kitchen or bathroom!

1.  Antihistimines – these are over the counter strength medications that block the allergic reaction happening in your dog’s skin.  We commonly use Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, and others.  The doses may seem higher than what you are used to as a human, but amazingly your dog or cat will not be as sleepy as you or I would be!  Claritin and Zyrtec have the advantage of being given  once a day, but you are limited to using it in larger dogs because of the pill size.  Ask your veterinarian if this is appropriate, and what your dog’s dose would be.

benadryl

2.  Fatty Acids –any dog with allergies or itching needs to take a fatty acid supplement every day.  This acts to block some of the “itch pathways” in the body, similar to antihistimines, but a different path.  They have secondary effects of helping to moisturize the skin, leading to glossier haircoat, as well as being a general anti-inflammatory (good for arthritis, too!)  Fish oil capsules, flax seed oil, olive oil can all be used, and even foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.

3.  Simple ear cleaner – doesn’t smell the best, but works well in a pinch:  equal parts hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and white vinegar.  This combo will kill yeast and bacteria and clean the ear canal really well.  Never use this in a ear that is raw or bleeding, as it will sting.  A nasal aspirator (found in baby aisle) works great to flush the solution into the ear – make sure the fluid can run out of the canal freely!

4.  Anti-yeast shampoos – believe it or not, Selsun blue actually will decrease the number of yeast on your dog’s skin.  Yeast is secondary usually to allergy or other chronic skin disease, but can contribute to itching and smelliness!  Bathe and allow to sit on skin for 10 minutes, then rinse well with cool water.  Don’t do this to a cat!

5.  Soothing oatmeal bath (Aveeno), in cool water will help calm the skin significantly.  Soak for 15 or 20 minutes, two or three times a week.

AVEENO-Oatmeal-Bath_485CDF5F

Goes without saying (doesn’t it?) that good flea control is ESSENTIAL, as they just add to the itching.  Please consult your veterinarian before giving any over the counter medication, as sometimes even benign medicines can interact with your pet’s current medications.  And severe allergies sometimes require prescription strength medications – so you will need to consult with your veterinarian for that.  Contact us with success stories via our website, www.hrah.com or Highland Road Animal Hospital on Facebook!