Things to Consider When Buying a New Puppy

With the onset of Covid many families found themselves at home with more free time on their hands than ever before. In fact, 11 million households decided that a new pet was the perfect way to pass the time! Families who thought owning a pet was out of their reach due to time constraints found themselves researching 4-legged companions.

Pandemics and Veterinary Medicine: The Perfect Storm

COVID has affected our society, our families and even us as individuals, in many ways. Eating indoors at our favorite restaurants, seeing movies in the theater, and even spending the day at an amusement park have all changed due to the virus. Unfortunately, veterinary medicine has also become a whole new world due to the pandemic.

Here at Cane Bay Vet Clinic, we have more than doubled our new clients and patients since the beginning of covid. This has been great for a growing business, but it has caused a number of headaches and growing pains along the way. Some of these, our clients and patients have experienced firsthand.

One of the biggest issues we faced during the peak of covid was availability of appointments. As our clientele increased, our availability subsequently decreased. This meant longer wait times for clients trying to get their pets in for preventative care services, such as annual exams, as we tried to accommodate the influx of sick patients we were seeing as well.

This growth and lack of availability can cause a great amount of stress for staff as they work to navigate the overwhelming demand. Doctors, technicians, assistants, and client care representatives alike find themselves being pulled in many different directions to meet the needs of their clients, patients and co-workers. Unfortunately, this stress can cause breakdowns in communication which leaves many owners feeling frustrated and upset.

For this reason, the majority of veterinary clinics also find themselves needing more staff members to accommodate their growing clientele. The problem that many of our clients don’t know is that veterinary clinics are notoriously understaffed as it is. During the pandemic clinics have found themselves struggling to hire and keep staff due to employee burn out from stress, a growing mental health crisis, insufficient wages, and demanding schedules.

Individual clinics aren’t the only ones suffering either. Vet med as whole is struggling to keep certain medications and equipment such as gloves and masks on the shelves. Many of these things are on back order, meaning what we used to be able to have ready for you in a few days, may not be ready for a few weeks or more.

To make things worse, not only are things harder to come by, but the price has gone up dramatically. A box of gloves that used to cost $7.00 is now $25.00. Medications and other supplies such as syringes, needles, and vaccines have increased as well. This means that many clinics across the country are having to increase their price of services to keep their doors open. So, while clients see this as veterinary staff only being in it for the money, the truth is, we do it so we can continue being there for you and your pet.

But how can you as a valued client and pet owner help?

Start a savings account for your pet or purchase pet insurance! It can be incredibly stressful to have a sick pet and you have no way to pay for it, which can cause tensions between well intentioned owners and a helpless veterinary staff. Having that peace of mind knowing your pet can be cared for under unforeseen circumstances is one less thing to worry about during a global pandemic.

Routine veterinary care can also become expensive (even when we’re not dealing with a global pandemic!) and during peak quarantine we found many families with a pet for the first time. Puppy and kitten visits add up quickly; throw in a neuter or spay and suddenly you’ve spent a thousand dollars. This can be off putting to someone who has never owned a pet. This also goes for multiple pet families as well. Can you care for multiple pets that may need care frequently? Keeping your pet up to date with routine exams can also save you money in the long run. It’s much easier to keep a pet healthy than it is to treat a sick one!

We are extremely blessed here at Cane Bay Vet Clinic with an amazing group of clients and patients. Many of you have been here with us since the beginning and stuck with us through a very uncertain time, and for that we’d like to say Thank You! If you are a new client looking for a vet clinic home in the Summerville, South Carolina area, we’d love to chat with you!

I’d like to close this out with a request; please be kind to your veterinary staff. They are doing their best to give gold standard medicine, love and compassion to your pets while meeting the needs of you as the owner. We all stumble and make mistakes, but in the end all we can hope for is a little understanding and kindness.

The Flaw in Declaw

There is nothing better than the excitement one experiences when bringing a new furry family member home. The trips to the pet store to buy the toys, beds and treats is almost like Christmas! You feel so prepared and can’t wait to shower your new pet with love and affection.

Over the next few weeks, you and your new kitten are bonding and learning about eachother. She loves to snuggle, and your phone is full of videos of her daily antics. But you’ve noticed that your sweet new baby has begun scratching and she has picked your favorite sofa as her personal scratching post.

What do you do?! All your friends suggest declawing your new kitten. “You’ll never have to worry about your furniture being wrecked again,” say your friends. When you ask if it hurts them, they assure you she will be fine. But something just does not sit right, so you decide to do some research on your own and you are shocked at what you find…

Declawing is the amputation of an animal’s digit up to the first joint. This includes all the bone, tendons and ligaments that surround the digit, and this is repeated ten times. This is the equivalent of a human having all their fingers amputated to the first knuckle.

The Flaw in Declaw

This procedure is not without risks and complications contrary to what many believe. Your kitten could suffer from abscesses, lifelong pain, lameness and in some cases regrowth of the claw which is extremely painful. If the amputation is not performed properly and the claws/nails do grow back your new pet will have to have a second anesthetic procedure to fix it.

Some cats also experience such severe pain after declawing that if affects their litterbox habits. If you’ve ever seen a cat in a litterbox, you know that they dig and bury their feces and urine. This natural act can become excruciating for a newly declawed cat. They now associate their litter box with pain and many cats choose to eliminate elsewhere, like your furniture or carpet… And these are just a few of the physical complications.

Your kitten could also experience psychological and behavioral difficulties as well. There are cases of cats doing a complete personality 180; you drop off a well-adjusted sweet kitten and months after their procedure they are terrified and miserable; dealing with physical pain as well as emotional. Because a feline’s claws are such an integral part of their existence; when you remove them, they replace normal behaviors with coping mechanisms. Now, instead of swatting with claws when they feel threatened, they may bite, because now they feel vulnerable and scared.

Cats also use their claws to mark territory, Without their claws some felines resort to marking with urine. Unfortunately, this is not a behavior that is easily reversed and in many cases is permanent. There are many cats living in shelters because they were surrendered after a declawing procedure.

The bottom line is that declawing is an unethical and inhumane procedure and there are better options out there for you and your pet! Silicone nail covers such as soft paws can be applied to the natural nail. Your cat is still able to mark their territory and defend themselves without ruining your furniture…or you! Soft paws are affordable, and application is easy with a little help and some practice. Here at Cane Bay Vet Clinic, we’ll even put them on for you!

There are also products on the market like Feliscratch that uses pheromone and scent therapy to teach your feline the appropriate places to mark. Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement as well! Most people view cats as aloof and unresponsive to typical pet training, but you would be surprised at how well a cat responds to praise when they do something right.

If you are a new feline owner in the Summerville, South Carolina area, please give us a call! We would love to discuss a care plan for your new family member and answer any questions you might have.

Ditch the Itch

Picture this: It is 2am and you’ve been dreaming of white sand beaches and crashing waves. But suddenly the cries of sea gulls and rushing water turn to something else…What is that noise?! You are pulled from your slumber by the sounds of your pet licking and chewing at themselves. This is now the 4th night in a row you have been awoken by your pet and you realize that something must be going on.

Ditch the Itch

Does this sound like a familiar scenario in your home? Pets can suffer from environmental allergies much like people do. However, they are not able to verbalize their discomfort, so they show us in other ways.

When people suffer from allergies we get runny noses, itchy and watery eyes and sometimes we sneeze. Our pets tend to chew and gnaw at their paws. They may even rub their faces on the ground or shake their heads. You may also see them scratch at their belly and armpits. If your pet suffers from chronic ear infections or skin infections these can also be secondary to an environmental allergy.

Most veterinary professionals have been in your shoes and we all agree that it is frustrating! Did you know there are things to help with your pet’s allergies and itching? We recommend starting with a skin cytology to determine if there is a secondary skin infection. Based on those findings we can treat the secondary infections and address the itching.

Apoquel is one of the therapies we like to use in dogs with allergies. It is a very effective treatment option that works to block the itch pathway to give your pet some relief (and you some sleep). Apoquel can be used as a long-term medication if your pet is itchy year-round but it also can be used as needed during allergy flare-ups. Many pets will experience flare ups during the warmer months here in Summerville, SC and things tend to calm down as the season changes and cool weather approaches. Apoquel is an excellent option as relief is almost immediate (within 4 hours of administration)!

We understand that remembering to give an oral medication can be tricky and sometimes our furry friends just do not like to take pills. If you prefer a different method of relief we also recommend Cytopoint. Cytopoint is an injection we give at Cane Bay Veterinary Clinic that offers 4-8 weeks of itch relief. Cytopoint can also be paired with Apoquel for those pet’s that need that little extra relief. It is also safe for use in dogs of any age! Both of these medications are prescription only so Dr. Hill or Dr. Turick will need to perform a physical exam before administering either drug.

Topical maintenance is also an important step in keeping your pet’s allergies in check. Things like soothing medicated shampoos and ear flush can help control minor flare-ups and help to get your pet back on the road to being itch free!

If your pet is experiencing allergy symptoms, call our office for an appointment.

Smelly Breath: The Truth Behind the Odor

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Dental health is something that is often overlooked by pet owners. Many people wait until they notice bad dog breath, or their cat does not seem as eager to eat his favorite treats before they bring them in for a dental exam. Unfortunately, dental disease is not reversible, and in many of these cases a pet may need several teeth extracted to alleviate associated pain and infection.

By the age of two, up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will have some degree of dental disease; however, this can all be avoided by starting routine oral health care early.

Much like humans, the state of your pet’s teeth can greatly affect their quality of life. Left untreated, poor oral health can cause secondary infections, abscesses and negatively impact their overall health, ultimately shortening their life.

Preventative dental care is one of the easiest ways to prolong the life and health of your pet.

A dental cleaning procedure for your pet is very similar to what you might experience at your own dental appointment. The major difference for pets is they are placed under general anesthesia because it is the only way to gain full access to the mouth and achieve a thorough oral exam. During the procedure, full mouth dental radiographs (x-rays) are taken to assess each tooth and look for disease below the gum line that cannot be seen on visual inspection. All teeth are probed to assess for bone loss and a cancer screen is performed, looking for any nodules or masses that may be in the mouth. Your pet will also have their teeth scaled and polished in the same way your dental hygienist cleans your teeth. If significantly diseased teeth are found, Dr. Hill or Dr. Turick will likely recommend removing those teeth as they are painful for your pet and may lead to other health concerns. Ideally, a routine dental cleaning should be performed on your pet annually to keep them healthy and free from dental pain.

Taking care of your pet’s teeth does not have to be overwhelming or scary. There are many products on the market now that can be used in conjunction with regular dental cleanings performed by the veterinarians at Cane Bay Veterinary Clinic. There are water additives, dental treats, chews and even pet toothpaste and toothbrushes! Dental disease should not be something we concern ourselves with when we notice a problem, but rather something we proactively strive to prevent.

If your pet’s teeth need attention in the Summerville, SC area call us for an appointment today.

Healthy Weight Pets Live Longer Lives

Healthy Weight Pets Live Longer Lives

Spoiling our pets is one of the best parts of owning one. Going to the doggy bakery and picking out cute cookies and bones for birthdays and milestones is fun and rewarding to both parties involved! And here in the Summerville, SC area we have so many amazing pet boutiques. However, spoiling our pets with high calorie treats regularly can set them up for health concerns down the road.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 60% of cats and 56% of dogs were classified as overweight or obese in 2018.

Just like with humans, our pets can suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease all related to their weight. Obesity also affects major organs such as the kidneys, liver, and respiratory system, as well as increases our pets’ risk for developing certain diseases like diabetes, hypothyroidism, and cancer. Pets can also experience physical pain in the form of arthritis when they are overweight causing lameness and ligament damage.

Obesity is measured on a Body Condition Scoring System ranking your pet on a scale from 1 to 9, with 4 or 5 being the “ideal” body condition. An ideal body condition for a pet is being able to just feel the ribs, but not see them, and having a nice, tucked waistline. One through 3 are considered “too thin”, meaning the pets’ ribs, spine, and/or hip bones are prominent and noticeable. Six through 9 are considered “too heavy” or obese, meaning that the pets’ ribs are covered with a layer of fat, waist may be noticeable from above or not at all, and other areas of the body, such as the tail and neck, may have increased fat deposits. When deciding how much to feed your pet, it is important to remember to feed to body condition and not weight itself.

Healthy Weight Pets Live Longer Lives

If your pet is obese there are ways to help them achieve a healthy weight. There are many diets available, both over the counter and veterinarian prescribed, that help with weight loss by restricting calorie intake. It is also important to be sure you are not overfeeding. A lot of pet owners don’t realize they are overfeeding their pets, and it can be difficult to refrain from giving the yummy table scraps and treats. Here at Cane Bay Vet Clinic our staff is well versed in diets and would be happy to discuss options with you!

Diet combined with daily exercise is often all it takes to help your pet achieve a healthy weight. However, sometimes there may be an underlying issue, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease, that prevents your pet from losing weight. If you are having trouble getting those pesky pounds off your pet, consult with Dr. Hill and Dr. Turick to determine if blood work may be warranted.

Keeping your pet at an ideal weight not only helps keep numerous health issues at bay but can prolong their life by an average of 1.8 years.  And who doesn’t want some extra quality time with their favorite furry friend?! If you have questions about your pet’s weight or diet Cane Bay Vet Clinic would love to help you out!

Grain Free Boutique Diets: Are They Bad for Your Dog’s Heart?

Diet related heart disease is not new in the veterinary world. In the 1980’s, scientists found a link between dilated cardiomyopathy in cats and taurine deficiency in their diets. Since then all commercially available cat foods are supplemented with taurine and dilated cardiomyopathy is rarely, if ever, diagnosed in cats today. Dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, is a type of heart disease in which the heart becomes enlarged and does not beat or contract as effectively as it should. It can lead to heart failure and death if left undiagnosed and untreated. Symptoms can include increased sluggishness or sleepiness, coughing, decreased appetite, pale gums, and fainting. Clinical signs often appear late in the course of disease; therefore, this disease can go undetected for some time and make your pet very ill suddenly, without a lot of warning.

In more recent years, DCM has been on the rise in our canine patients and in breeds not typically diagnosed with this disease. The link in most of these cases has been Grain Free Boutique diets that have peas, lentils and legumes in them in place of grains.

The FDA has recently released a report naming the top brands associated with this recent rise in dilated cardiomyopathy.

 These brands in order of reported cases include Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health, Earthborn Holistic, Blue Buffalo, Nature’s Domain, Fromm, Merrick, California Natural, Natural Balance, Orijen, Nature’s Variety, Nutrisource, Nutro, and Rachael Ray Nutrish. If a brand is not on this list, it does not rule it out as a potential cause of heart disease. It simply means it has not been reported to the FDA in enough numbers to make the list at this time.

Ultimately, grain free diets have very little basis in science and are more of a marketing ploy perpetuated by good advertising.

Grain free diets for our pets became very popular around the same time that gluten free and grain free diets became popular in humans. Our canine and feline companions are actually very good at digesting grains and receive a lot of nutritional value from grains such as corn. A lot of consumers also believe their pets have a grain allergy and therefore avoid feeding grains. In reality, very few pets actually have a food allergy to proteins such as beef or chicken, and even fewer pets are allergic to grains. In other words, grain allergies in our pets are almost unheard of. If your pet is experiencing itchy skin, ears or other signs of allergies, please discuss this with your Cane Bay Veterinary Clinic doctor. Pets in the Summerville, SC area are much more likely to be allergic to fleas or things in the environment such as pollen, grass and dust than they are to food.

The FDA, veterinary nutritionists, and veterinary cardiologists are working hard to figure out what specific components of these grain free diets are contributing to the recent rise in DCM cases. In the meantime, if you are feeding your pet a grain free diet, Dr. Turick and Dr. Hill are recommending transitioning to a grain inclusive diet until more is known. If you are not sure about your pet’s diet, or if your pet is on a special prescription diet, please discuss this with your veterinarian before switching. If you need to switch your pet’s diet, please transition from one food to another slowly over the course of a week to avoid causing your pet any gastrointestinal upset.

Is Your Pet Protected?

Do you remember the last time you gave your dog or cat a dose of heartworm prevention or flea and tick prevention? It can certainly be difficult to remember to do this important task on time, but it is so crucial for the health and well-being of our pets and us!

Did you know that 1 out of every 58 dogs and 1 out of every 107 cats in Berkeley county was diagnosed with heartworm disease last year alone!

Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes – one bite is all it takes to infect your dog or cat with this life-threatening disease. For all of us who live in the Low Country we know these blood suckers are everywhere.

Once a dog is infected it can take 6 months for that infection to be detectable with standard heartworm testing at your veterinarian. Dogs who are infected can have hundreds of foot-long, adult worms in their heart, causing significant damage to the heart and lungs. This damage starts to occur even before the disease is detectable on standard testing and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Also, treatment itself is not without consequences. A full course of treatment for dogs with heartworm disease in Summerville, SC can cost upwards of $1000 and is not without potential life-threatening side effects. This is why prevention is so important!

Cats with heartworm disease usually only have a few worms in their heart, but they can be very sensitive to heartworms. Cats develop heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD) which can cause sudden and severe respiratory distress and even death.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for cats with heartworm disease, so prevention is the best and only answer.

Just remember that mosquitoes come in our homes, so even strictly indoor cats are susceptible to heartworm disease and should be on year-round prevention.

Most heartworm preventions not only prevent heartworm disease but also help control intestinal parasites otherwise known as worms! Intestinal parasites not only cause our pets health issues – such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and poor hair coat to name a few – but they can also be contagious to humans. Children who play outside and do not always keep the best hygiene practices can be particularly susceptible. Hookworms can get under the skin of humans and cause a very itchy rash known as cutaneous larval migrans. Roundworms can affect the liver, lungs, nervous system and even the eye causing blindness in humans. Most heartworm preventions given to our pets monthly can help control intestinal parasites and therefore greatly decrease the risk of parasitism in us and our children.

Finally, I will touch on flea and tick prevention. Fleas are a definite nuisance and can be very difficult to get rid of once an infestation takes place in our homes. Therefore, at Cane Bay Veterinary Clinic we recommend monthly prevention for both dogs and cats. Fleas can also carry some life-threatening diseases for our pets and cause anemia severe enough to warrant a blood transfusion. Ticks can also carry life-threatening diseases and infect our pets with diseases such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichia and anaplasmosis. Year-round flea and tick prevention is important for all dogs and cats to prevent life-threatening illness, and prevent you from spending lots of money with exterminators getting these nasty pests out of your home after an infestation takes place.

If your pet is not currently on prevention, talk to Dr. Hill or Dr. Turick or our Cane Bay team today, to get them on prevention and ward off many health concerns for you and your pet!