Is Your Indoor Kitty Unhappy and Bored?

Recently there has been increased “conversation” in the media, the veterinary literature and among veterinarians about the issue of whether our feline companions should be kept indoors and how to then fulfill their basic needs for hunting and play. For me, the discussion is quite relevant as my husband and I added two kittens, Finn and Trey, to our family last fall. All of our previous cats were allowed outside during the day and lived quite long (19 and 20 years) and happy lives. For the new guys the decision about whether to let them out was complicated. Our present home is on the corner of a rather busy intersection and I have become an avid feeder of songbirds so the “costs” of allowing them to go out was higher, both for them and my bird friends. Ultimately we decided that they would remain as indoor only cats. For the first time, I was responsible for providing an environment for my cats that would meet their needs without the outdoor world. Continue Reading


Managing Fearful Visits to the Vet

Our patients’ fear of veterinary visits is one of the most significant barriers we face when providing medical care. Your concern about the stress of your pets’ visits, as well as the changes that occur physiologically in frightened pets, makes addressing this fear an important part of our approach at Aztec Animal Clinic.

We offer our canine patients unlimited treats during examinations and vaccinations. We don’t want your pets to feel trapped, so we use minimal restraint during all procedures, including nail trims and when drawing blood for lab work. Plus, allowing our patients to remain on the floor or the bench for examinations has changed the dynamic in the exam room. Many of our veterinarians spend visits sitting or kneeling on the floor to get “up close and personal” if patients seem more comfortable there. When necessary for safety, we prefer to use basket muzzles instead of traditional muzzles, as these allow dogs to get treats, pant and even get a drink while wearing them. Light, reversible sedatives that reduce pain and anxiety also decrease the need for significant restraint during minor procedures.

We have a separate waiting area and exam rooms for Aztec’s feline patients. We use soft blankets sprayed with Feliway (a pheromone that reduces anxiety) and give our patients time to come out of their carriers and explore the room if they wish. Removing the top of the carrier, rather than using the “drag or dump” method, allows the kitty to stay put and maintain a bit of dignity at the beginning of the examination. We place the Feliway blanket on the table under the patient and use it to gently wrap the patient if we need to transport him through the treatment area. This reduces what the kitty sees and hears. When we need blood and/or urine samples, we take patients to the radiology room, which is a very quiet and calm space. Perhaps most importantly, our feline patients have their own ward where they are not subjected to the sounds of a busy hospital. We play white noise and keep traffic to a minimum in this area to decrease their stress.

We have several handouts available that address training strategies and desensitization techniques for reducing fear of hospital visits. We offer a weekly socialization class for all puppies that come to Aztec so they can develop happy associations with our clinic. Finally, we encourage our clients to talk to us about antianxiety supplements and medications. These are safe and effective products that can decrease the duress that both you and your companion experience before and during vet visits. If you would like to learn more about the options, or if you would like us to send you any of our handouts, call Aztec Animal Clinic at (505) 702-8521 or email us at hello@aztecanimalclinic.com. We are committed to making our patients as comfortable as possible!


Stay Aware of Rattlesnakes This Season

Dr. McGuire with (from left to right) her two dogs Taylor and Lacy, and her 2 grand-dogs Charlie and Roo, out for a hike in the Sandias.

Dr. McGuire with (from left to right) her two dogs Taylor and Lacy, and her 2 grand-dogs Charlie and Roo, out for a hike in the Sandias.

Rattlesnake season is approaching! As the weather warms up and you start to spend more time outside, please remember that rattlesnakes are a threat to you and your dog. Like all cold-blooded animals, rattlesnakes are more active in the hotter seasons. Rattlesnakes like to bask in the sun most days, so you may encounter one when hiking, camping or while on a walk in the Sandias or many other areas in New Mexico. Rattlesnake venom is extremely dangerous to pets, leading to excessive swelling and necrosis (death) of the tissue surrounding the bite wound.

A rattlesnake bite should be treated immediately at an emergency facility. Treatment may include hospitalization, and your pet would receive intravenous fluids and close monitoring. Depending on the severity and location of the bite, antivenom medication may be necessary as well. Remember, not treating your pet could lead to death. Continue Reading


Spring Has Arrived. Now Get Out There!

Playing fetch with cute beagle dog

The wisteria bushes are budding, the grass is starting to grow and the flowering plum and crabapple trees have turned our neighborhood into a colorful landscape. Many of our friends and neighbors are out and about, enjoying the recent warm days after a chilly winter.

We are blessed to live in a neighborhood that offers great walking routes and several parks for rambling. The nearby Sandia Mountains and numerous open spaces make our city ideal for heading outdoors with your canine friends. We have a few tips to help make your outings fun for everyone. Continue Reading


Easter Safety Tips

Easter Safety

Our team wishes you and your family a safe and joy-filled Easter. It is important to keep in mind, though, that Easter represents a number of potential dangers to pets.

Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats. All parts of the plant are poisonous, and even a small amount can result in fatal kidney failure. Symptoms of lily poisoning develop in six to 12 hours after ingestion and increase in severity as time goes on. If you suspect your cat may have been exposed to Easter lilies, please call your veterinarian. Speedy treatment is crucial. If you witnessed exposure, your should bring your cat to the vet even if your cat is not showing symptoms. Continue Reading


Allergy season is upon us…

Roses are red, violets are blue, your pet has allergies……AAAAHHHHCHHHOOO!!!

Sneezing dog

Many of us suffer from seasonal allergies, but did you know that your pets can also suffer from them??

Cats can also suffer from seasonal allergies

Cats can also suffer from seasonal allergies

 

You may already expect coughing, sneezing and runny eyes, but pets can react with their skin too!  Skin can become inflamed and the itching and scratching cycle begins.  Ear canals, which are just a tube of skin, become a prime place for infections to develop if that skin becomes inflamed.

Continue Reading


Indoor or Outdoor?

The reason behind this question frequently asked of our clients is to give us a better idea of health issues that might need to be addressed at their cat’s yearly visit. Both options have very distinct advantages and disadvantages associated with them. Outdoor cats are more prone to coming into contact with other cats who could be carrying diseases such as Felv and FIV. Other hazards such as loose dogs, fights with other cats and vehicular encounters are the reality for the outdoor cat. On the upside these cats are usually much more physically fit due to their hunting and greater over all physical activity. While our recommendation is to keep cats indoors to insure that they stay safe and potentially live a longer life, there is a much larger prevalence of behavioral problems and obesity and its associated problems in this population. So what is a cat owner to do to keep their cat not only safe, but happy and healthy?
A 2007 article in the Smithsonian attributed the domestication process of cats to having started around 12,000 years ago and it is thought that they domesticated themselves. “Cats were delighted by the abundance of prey in the storehouses; people were delighted by the pest control. We think what happened is that the cats sort of domesticated themselves,” Carlos Driscoll, one of the study’s authors, told the Washington Post. “The cats invited themselves in and over time, as people favored cats with more docile traits, certain cats adapted to this new environment producing the dozens of breeds of house cats known today. In the United States cats are the most popular house pet with 90 million domesticated cats slinking around 34 percent of U.S. homes”. *
With this origin, it is easy to see why a cat’s natural tendency is to want to be outdoors hunting. Overcoming this tendency can be not only complex but frustrating for cat owners. This is where environmental enrichment can play an important role for indoor cats and their owners.

 

What is Environmental Enrichment?

Environmental enrichment is generally understood to mean improving the living situation of captive animals to enhance their health and quality of life. Information about all the different areas of enrichment for cats can be found in another article on our web site at https://www.aztecanimalclinic.com/resources/pet-care-library/feline/environmental-enrichment-for-cats/

 

Climbing and jumping are great activities for all cats to help keep them physically and mentally active and healthy.

Climbing and jumping are great activities for all cats to help keep them physically and mentally active and healthy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most common ways to enrich your cat’s life is to provide them with outlets for their natural need to hunt and explore.  Providing climbing ramps and perches along ceilings, walls and over doors allows them to explore, lounge at higher elevations and observe their environment from above.  Wall mounted cat perches are also a great space saving idea for smaller homes and apartments where you don’t want to take up valuable floor space.

 

This Aztec client used $5 wooden crates from Home Depot, cut holes in the ends, added pieces of carpet and mounted them on their sides on the wall.

This Aztec client used $5 wooden crates from Home Depot, cut holes in the ends, added pieces of carpet and mounted them on their sides on the wall.

 

For many indoor cats, this is often enough to keep them physically fit.  It also provides cats in multi-cat households the ability  to have their own space away from other cats that they might not interact well with.  These walkways and “observation” decks can be as elaborate as you wish using any combination of commercial cat tree perches, boxes and shelves.  These structures can also be extended to the outdoors in many forms of enclosures.  Some are free standing in nature and can be easily transported if you travel with your cat.

Many full time RV travelers often use some form of outdoor enclosure system for their cats while traveling and staying in campgrounds.

Many full time RV travelers often use some form of outdoor enclosure system for their cats while traveling and staying in campgrounds.

 

Others are more permanent free standing structures either built from scratch using lumber or a pre-made dog run as its foundation.  The most popular are those that create an extension of the indoor environment to include elements of the outdoors, such as smells, sounds and fresh air.  One easy approach is to enclose an existing 3 sided outdoor patio with mesh to keep cats safely contained while allowing them many of the attributes of being outside.

 

This enclosure, built by another Aztec client, enables them to enjoy some outdoor time with their cats. A built in dog/cat door in the wall enables them to come and go as they please.

This enclosure, built by another Aztec client, enables them to enjoy some outdoor time with their cats. A built in dog/cat door in the wall enables them to come and go as they please.

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Built in perches enable the cats to observe the outdoor in a comfortable place "above" the bustle of the world. The addition of a bird feeding station safely outside the enclosure can also provide much enjoyed visual stimulation for your cats.

Built in perches enable the cats to observe the outdoor in a comfortable place “above” the bustle of the world. The addition of a bird feeding station safely outside the enclosure can also provide much enjoyed visual stimulation for your cats.

 

 

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Suggested resources for more information on making your own catio cat enclosure or other indoor climbing walls for your cat:

https://www.pinterest.com/explore/outdoor-cat-enclosure

http://catioshowcase.com

*Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-brief-history-of-house-cats-158390681/#a54osROTKSJr4RwL.99

 


Tips on Avoiding Holiday Disasters

Read on for some tips to help keep this holiday season safe for your pets!

It’s time to hang out the tinsel, but if you aren’t careful, that shiny decoration just may make it time to hang out in the veterinary emergency room!

It’s time to hang out the tinsel, but if you aren’t careful, that shiny decoration just may make it time to hang out in the veterinary emergency room!

 

Pretty Ribbons and Shiny Tinsel
Cats can’t resist shiny, silver tinsel and pretty ribbons hanging from a Christmas tree, and while these decorations aren’t toxic, they can cause serious injury to a pet if they are consumed.

Pets that have ingested tinsel or ribbon may show symptoms that include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Belly pain
  • Fever

As tinsel and ribbon try to pass through the body, the strands can twist, bunch up, and cut through the intestinal wall. The recovery prognosis from this type of injury is poor. Cat owners may want to consider replacing tinsel and ribbons with another type of decoration.

Ornaments

If they can reach them, pets can chew and swallow ornaments which may create choking hazards. Depending on what it is made of, broken pieces can lacerate a pet’s mouth, throat, and intestines.

Pets that have ingested ornamental holiday decorations may show signs of:

  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Holiday Lights

Decorative lights pose a danger, especially to animals that like to chew. Remember that cords should be checked for signs of frayed or chewed wires, and always should be used with a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution.

An animal that bites down on a string of holiday lights or on an extension cord can receive an electric shock and may show signs of:

  • Burns
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

Any animal that is injured by an electrical shock should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.  

Five Toxic Holiday Plants

Plants are often used to adorn a home during the holidays, but decorating with the wrong plants can turn disastrous, and pet owners need to have knowledge of these dangers. The following five plants pose the biggest threat to an animal’s well-being.

1. Poinsettias have long been thought to be extremely toxic to animals, but in truth they are not very dangerous. Signs an animal has ingested poinsettias are:

  • Irritation of mouth
  • Irritation of stomach
  • Vomiting

 

2. Holly berries and their leaves can poison an animal. When ingested, an animal will show signs of:Holly

  • Intense vomiting
  • Belly pain
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea

 

3. Mistletoe is extremely toxic. An animal that ingests any part of this plant should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Symptoms include: 

  • Vomiting
    Mistletoe is extremely toxic

    Mistletoe is extremely toxic

  • Severe diarrhea
  • Difficult breathing
  • Collapse
  • Erratic behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Shock
  • Death

 

4. Lilies are deadly to cats.

  • The ingestion of one leaf of a lily can cause kidney failure and death.
    Clinical Signs of Toxicity: Vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, kidney failure, and death is possible. Cats are only species known to be affected.

    Clinical Signs of Toxicity: Vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, kidney failure, and death is possible. Cats are only species known to be affected.

 

 5. Pine tree needles can be toxic and cause the following symptoms:

  • Oral irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Trembling
  • Posterior weakness

 

 

Live trees also pose an additional problem to animals. Often the water is given an additive to keep the tree looking fresh for a longer period of time, and this additive may have a chemical that is poisonous to animals. Remember to keep your pets from drinking this water.

These preventative measures can help protect your pets during this holiday season.  For more helpful tips on keeping your pets safe this holiday season check out this helpful infographic.

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*Information and infographic provided by Henry Schein Animal Health


Pinky’s Story

Pinky’s Story:

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Today, she weighs 1.18 lbs and is becoming quite full of herself!

The world of veterinary medicine is always interesting and ever-changing.  It’s not all puppies and kittens but, sometimes we do get the chance to completely change the life of a young patient.

One example is Pinky, the micro-Chihuahua who had been losing weight, becoming progressively weak, and had developed seizures for 2 days prior to presentation at the clinic. She was severely hypoglycemic, which means her blood sugar was extremely low. Small breed puppies are at high risk for developing hypoglycemia and should be fed small meals multiple times per day to avoid this. Signs of hypoglycemia include trembling, lethargy, weakness, drooling and seizures.  She weighed 330 grams (0.72 lb) on the day she arrived at the clinic. Dr. Silvia Rodriguez took this little one under her wing and nursed her back to health over several days, even taking her home for a weekend of intensive fluid therapy and care. We weren’t certain this tiny little girl was going to make it, but she is tougher than she looks and has bounced back with a vengeance!

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She is loving her dry puppy kibble (the tiniest kibble that could be found!).

 

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Pinky has met the other pets in the clinic, and even enjoyed a little backpack ride onboard Rupert with her friend Gage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER 2 UPDATE ON PINKY:

Pinky continues to thrive and now, 5 weeks later, is a happy healthy youngster weighing in at 1# 13 oz.  Her hair coat has all grown in and is as black as coal and soft as satin.  She has developed quite the personality and is spoiled beyond belief by her family.  A happy ending for a very lucky puppy.

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