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As vacation season quickly approaches, pet sitters everywhere will be hard at work caring for pets whos families travel without them. Boarding facilities can be a great option; but some pets prefer to stay in their own homes while their family is away. When this is the case, you as the owner should think about creating an instruction manual on how to care for your pet to familiarize your sitter to your pet’s daily routine.
Take a peek at the following, to ensure you have included everything your pet sitter might need to know in order to take the best care of your pet!
Make sure your pet has enough food to last the entire time you will be away, plus a few days extra (this is especially important if your pet eats prescription food that needs to be ordered in advance). As you write out your instruction manual, include how much to feed your pet at each meal, and what time(s) to feed them. Also include the brand and formula of the food, in case your pet sitter should need to pick up more. Are there any other special instructions at feeding time? This might include adding water to the food, having them sit before giving them their food, feeding in a specific room of the house, etc.
Fresh water is a must for all pets! Be sure to include any special instructions or restrictions regarding their hydration needs! Also note where you keep the dish and if you use specific water (filtered, tap, bottled, etc). Do you pick their water up a few hours before bedtime to prevent accidents? If so, include that in this section too.
Include how many times you would like your pet let outside each day or how often you would like their litter box cleaned. Do they have a command to go to the bathroom such as “go potty” “do your business” or “get busy,” or do they simply go outside and go on their own?
Make sure you have enough of your pet’s medication on hand before you leave for your trip, including a couple days extra, just in case. Leave a complete list of any medications your pet takes including: doses, times given, and any special instructions. Also explain any specific ways you administer the medications such as wrapping it in cheese or in a pill pocket, mix it in wet or dry food, etc. If your sitter isn’t comfortable administering medication, a boarding facility with experience in this area may be a better option for your pet’s health.
Exercise needs vary between breeds and species. If you have a dog, they will most likely need some form of exercise while you are away. It will be very helpful to your pet sitter if you detail what you would prefer this to look like. Would you like your dog walked each day? If so, how far? Is there any special equipment or any specific instructions you want them to know/use when walking your pet? Make sure your sitter is comfortable with your pet’s exercise plan.
We love to spoil our pets! It’s great to give special treats, but be sure to let your sitter know the boundaries with this one! Include any food/treat allergies your pets sitter should be aware of. Does your pet like to work to get treats out of toys when they are home alone? Do they get a treat when they come in from going to the bathroom or at bedtime? We all like to overindulge a little bit on vacation; make sure your sitter doesn’t allow your pet too much indulgence!
Include your primary veterinarian’s name, address, and phone number in case your pet should need veterinary care. Also include the name, address, and phone number of your local emergency vet, should your pet have an emergency after your primary vet is closed. Another important contact to include is the name and phone number of a family member or friend who could care for your pet, should your pet sitter have an emergency come up and need a backup.
Is there anything extra you want your pet sitter to know? Should your pet be kept in a crate or a single room when no one is there? Are there any special commands you want them to use? Does your pet have a thunderstorm or firework phobia? Does your pet frequently have accidents in the house? Are cleaning products and other pet products easily accessible? Be sure to include these important instructions so your pet sitter is prepared! And of course, enjoy your vacation!
What is an allergy?
An allergy is a state of over-reactivity or hypersensitivity of the immune system of a pet to a particular substance called an ‘allergen’. Most allergens are proteins. The allergen protein may be of insect, plant or animal origin. Initial exposure of the dog, or more likely multiple exposures, to the allergen may over-sensitize the immune system, such that a subsequent exposure to the same or related allergen causes an over-reaction. This means that the immune response, which normally protects the dog against infection and disease, can be harmful. The actual immune reactions involved in allergies are quite complex. Most reactions involve an antibody in the blood called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). In an allergic reaction the allergen protein molecules combine with IgE antibody molecules and attach to a type of cell called mast cells, found in many tissues. When these cells are attached to the allergen, they break up and release potent chemicals such as histamines, which cause local inflammation. This inflammation causes the various signs associated with an allergic reaction.
What are the symptoms of allergies in dogs?
The most common symptom associated with allergies is itching of the skin, either localized (one area) or generalized (all over the body). Another group of symptoms involves the respiratory system with coughing, sneezing, and/or wheezing. Sometimes, there may be runny discharge from eyes or nose. The third manifestation involves the digestive system, and the dog may vomit or have diarrhea.
How common are allergies in dogs?
Unfortunately allergies are quite common in dogs of all breeds and backgrounds.
Are allergies inherited?
Some allergies are inherited. The inherited trait is known as Atopy (see What is Inhalant Allergy or Atopy below).
What are the common allergy-causing substances (allergens)?
A very large number of substances can act as allergens. Most are proteins of insect, plant or animal origin, but small chemical molecules known as haptens can also cause allergy. Examples of common allergens are pollens, mold spores, dust mites, shed skin cells, insect proteins such as flea saliva, and some medications.
What are the different types of allergy?
There are several ways of classifying allergies. Some examples of classifications include: the precipitating allergen (Flea Allergy); the route the allergen takes into the body (Inhalant Allergy, Skin Contact Allergy, Food Allergy); the immune reaction timing (Immediate Hypersensitivity, also called Anaphylaxis or Shock; and Delayed Hypersensitivity); the type of immune reaction (Types I to IV Hypersensitivity); or by outcome (Allergic Dermatitis or Allergic Eczema; Allergic Bronchitis). There are also inherited forms of allergy (Atopy).
What is Contact Allergy?
Contact allergy is the least common type of allergy in dogs. It results from direct contact to allergens contained in flea collars or bedding, such as pyrethrins or wool. If the dog is allergic to these substances, there will be skin irritation and itching at the points of contact. Removal of the allergen (once it can be identified) solves the problem.
What is Flea Allergy and how is it treated?
Flea allergy is the exaggerated inflammatory response to a flea bite. Flea saliva is the allergen. It is a common allergy of dogs, although only a minority of dogs becomes allergic. Most dogs experience minor irritation from flea bites. But the flea allergic dog will react to a single bite with severe local itching. It will bite and scratch itself and may remove large amounts of hair. Secondary bacterial infection may occur in the broken skin. The area most commonly involved is over the rump in the tail base region.
Because one flea can be a problem for the allergic dog, strict flea control is essential. This is difficult considering the life-cycle of fleas, but there are means for instituting an intensive flea elimination program in the house (see Fleas). Your veterinarian can give you tips on protecting your dog from fleas. When strict flea control is not possible or in cases of severe itching, corticosteroids (steroids) can be used, under careful veterinary guidance, to block the allergic reaction and give relief. If secondary bacterial infection is present, appropriate antibiotics will be prescribed.
What is Inhalant Allergy (Atopy) and how is it treated?
Although allergic rhinitis and bronchitis might be regarded as the result of inhaled allergens, the term “Inhalant Allergy” in the dog is used as a synonym for Atopy. The main causative inhaled allergens are tree pollens (cedar, ash, oak, etc.), grass pollens, weed pollens (ragweed, etc.), molds, mildew, and house dust mites. Many of these allergies occur seasonally, such as ragweed, cedar, and grass pollens. However, others such as molds, mildew, and house dust mites are year-round. When humans inhale these allergens, the allergy manifests mainly with respiratory signs – runny eyes, runny nose, and sneezing (“hay fever”). But in dogs the result is itchy skin (pruritis). So the condition is also called “Inhalant Allergic Dermatitis”. The dog may rub its face, lick its feet and scratch the axillae (underarms).
Most dogs that have inhalant allergy start showing signs between one and three years of age. Affected dogs will often react to several allergens. If the offending allergens can be identified, by intradermal skin tests or IgE allergy tests, the dog should be protected from exposure to them as much as possible. But this is difficult and recurrent bouts are likely. These allergies can be treated but a permanent cure is not usually possible.
Treatment depends largely on the length of the dog’s allergy season. It involves three approaches:
Anti-inflammatory. Treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids, sometimes given with antihistamines, will quickly block the allergic reaction in most cases. Fatty acid supplementation of the diet can improve the response to steroids and antihistamines in some cases.
Shampoo therapy. Frequent bathing with a hypoallergenic shampoo can be soothing and helpful. The bathing may also rinse out allergens in the coat that could be absorbed through the skin.
Hyposensitization. The third major form of allergy treatment is hyposensitization with specific antigen injections or “allergy shots”. Once the specific sources of allergy are identified, very small amounts of the antigen are injected weekly. This repeated dosing has the objective of reprogramming or desensitizing the immune system. Results are sometimes good but success is variable.
Immunotherapy. Allergen specific immunotherapy has been considered the “gold standard” for more than 40 years. “Allergen specific” means that, depending on the results from allergy testing, an allergy serum for desensitization/hyposensitization can be created for each individual patient. The allergens are combined at an optimal concentration and then administered at incremental amounts and strengths. The allergen combination is administered at a gradual taper in frequency of administration (for example, every other day, then weekly, then every other week, and then monthly).
What is Food Allergy and how is it treated?
Food allergy can develop to almost any protein or carbohydrate component of food. It most commonly develops in response to the protein component of the food or a particular food origin; beef, pork, chicken, or turkey are commonly associated with food allergies. Food allergy can become apparent at almost any age.
Food allergy may produce any of the clinical signs previously discussed including itching, digestive disorders, and respiratory distress. Food allergy may occur with other allergies, such as atopy, but food allergy does not respond well to corticosteroids. Treatment requires identifying the offending component(s) of the diet and eliminating them. Testing for specific food allergies requires test feeding with a special hypoallergenic diet. Because it takes at least eight weeks for all other food products to be removed from the body, the dog must eat the special diet exclusively for 8-12 weeks. If a positive response occurs, your veterinarian will advise you on how to proceed. It must be emphasized that if the diet is not fed exclusively, it will not be a valid test. All table food, treats or vitamins must be discontinued during the testing period. There may be problems with certain types of chewable tablets such as heartworm preventative. Your veterinarian will discuss this with you.
The manifestations of allergies can be confused with other disorders, or concurrent with them. Therefore, do not attempt to diagnose your dog without professional assistance. Be prepared for your pet to receive a full diagnostic work up by your veterinarian. If an allergy is diagnosed and identified, the whole family must follow your veterinarian’s advice very closely if success in controlling the problem is to be achieved.
We are very excited to welcome Dr. Loeffler back to the hospital staff as an associate veterinarian!
She first worked for Telford Veterinary Hospital in 2006 while working through veterinary school. She received her undergraduate degree from King’s College in 2006 and graduated veterinary school at Kansas State University, College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. She has a deep interest in behavioral medicine and is a certified “Fear Free” veterinarian. Dr. Loeffler loves German Shepherds and currently has five dogs, three pure bred German Shepherds named “Ivy”, “Storm” and “Phoenix”, a Leonberger named “Theo” and shepherd mix named “Roxy”. When not seeing clients, she enjoys competing with her dogs in the sport of nose work (a sport based upon drug detection in K9 officers) and working with Roxy Therapy Dogs providing comfort to children dealing with a variety of health, emotional and educational struggles both in the classroom and courtroom.
The addition of Dr. Loeffler brings exciting new opportunities to our clients interested in behavioral modification for their pet. She brings extensive clinical knowledge and practical application skills in conjunction with her “Fear Free” approach to help modify unwanted behavior. She will begin seeing clients May 12, 2018. Please join us in extending her a warm welcome back!
In addition to Dr. Loeffler joining the practice this May; we are excited to announce a new supportive treatment option has arrived at the hospital! In April we began trialing Laser Light Therapy for a variety of patient cases, and we are thrilled at the results!
What is Laser Therapy?
Laser therapy offers a surgery-free, drug-free, noninvasive alternative treatment that can reduce pain, reduce inflammation and speed healing.
How Does Laser Therapy Work?
Our Class IV laser uses a beam of light to deeply penetrate tissue and induce a biological response in the cells called “photobiomodulation” to treat the affected area. Treatments typically take minutes and your pet will only feel a soothing warmth during treatment.
It Sounds Expensive…
Treatment plans are unique to each case, therefore, treatment will vary in time, cost and complexity. Our Veterinarians will determine the course of treatment during your pet’s office visit, you can prepay the entire series of treatments and schedule them the same day! In comparison to invasive surgery or ongoing medication costs, laser therapy costs are minimal and could be a great treatment plan for your pet!
What Are Some Conditions That Improve With Laser Therapy?
Schedule an appointment today to find out more about how Laser Therapy could improve the life of your canine or feline companion!
Learn More about our Laser Therapy System here.
Our very own Dr. Minninger was recognized this month by Last Chance Ranch for her dedication to helping their rescued animals with any medical needs!
Last Chance Ranch Animal Rescue, true to its name, is the last chance for many animals. Pulled from the grasp of uncertainty, potential slaughter, euthanasia, neglect and abandonment, Last Chance Ranch (LCR) rescues horses, dogs and many other animals giving them their last chance to shine and thrive. LCR is a 501c3 non-profit, volunteer based animal rescue, founded in 1989 and reorganized as a non-profit in 1998.
Since that time it has grown and changed in many ways to help animals in need, focusing on equines and canines. Ranch staff have a combined animal education of over 100 years of experience. Focused efforts on rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing has allowed them to care for over 1000 animals every year. The best way to help more animals is to partner with other organizations and companies to achieve a common goal. Last Chance Ranch diligently works to develop new programs and partnerships in an effort to save more animals from uncertain fates, as well as provide many services to the community.
Dr. Sharon Minninger and the Telford Veterinary Hospital are one of those aforementioned partnerships. She has devoted one day each week to caring for animals from Last Chance Ranch since 2015. Providing routine care services for animals at The Ranch is a small portion of her commitment to helping them find forever homes. The primary focus of the partnership between Telford Veterinary Hospital and Last Chance Ranch are the surgical procedures needed for the adoptable pets of The Ranch. In 2017 alone Dr. Minninger performed over 200 spay and neuter surgeries for Last Chance Ranch! These procedures help ensure a long and healthy life for the animals in their new adoptive homes!
At this year’s annual Tails and Ties Rescue Gala, benefiting Last Chance Ranch and their mission, Dr. Minninger was recognized for her care and medical contributions by the organization.
She received their annual Advocate Award for her strong work and commitment to their cause; and played a part in helping over 800 pets find new homes in the last year!
Dr. Minninger’s story of commitment to helping Last Chance Ranch can be viewed here!
Great work Dr. Minninger and Telford Vet Team! And what a great service to our greater community having Last Chance Ranch as a temporary home for animals in need!
To find out more about Last Chance Ranch click here!
To find out more about Telford Vet Staff click here!
Where’s Waldo? was great fun to read with our kids, and as a kid; but when your pet becomes Waldo, and the search area is far larger than a book page, the fun runs out! As the weather gets warmer and our days are getting longer, our pets are spending more and more time outside. This extended outdoor play invites a greater chance that your pet may become lost! Is your pet identification up to par?
Just like Waldo had his trademark black rimmed glasses and red and white striped shirt and hat, our pets need identification to be found if they become lost.
Having your pet wear a collar with identification on it at all times is your first line of defense should your pet become lost.
Microchips offer a simple and permanent form of identification for your pet, should their collar slip off or break during their elopement.
Keep your pet’s safe with both collars and microchips for the greatest protection should your pet become lost. Finding Waldo in a timely fashion becomes exponentially easier with proper identification and accurate owner contact information!
Check to make sure your pet’s microchip information is up to date or register your chip here!