New Pet: Four Things You Need to Consider

There are many good reasons to add a pet to my family, but which type of pet is right for me? Can I afford it? How do I take care of it? What do I need to plan for? I’ve done all the research for you, so if you need an idea of what you’re getting yourself into, keep reading!

  1. The most important thing to consider when getting a new pet is asking yourself what is this pet’s job? Is this pet – a guard dog, a companion for an elderly person, exercise buddy, something for the kids to learn about and enjoy? Different pets do different things and care consideration is necessary during the search for a pet. For example pairing a young, high energy large Labrador Retriever with an elderly shut-in is a recipe for disaster. Although that lab puppy was cute when he/she was little, the pet wasn’t suited to the home.
  2. Your next consideration is where you and your pet will live. Many rentals and apartments have pet and breed restrictions, so make sure what you the pet you want is allowed. Ensuring that your home meets the requirements for the pet to be healthy is also important. Is there enough room in a one bedroom apartment for a giant breed herding dog? Are the spaces in a wrought iron fence wide enough that a toy breed Chihuahua could get out? It’s not all about you, but also the needs of the pet and of those who will be affected by the pet joining the family.
  3. How about cost of owning a pet? Money is a necessary component of adding a pet to your family. The cost of various pets varies both on what you get, where you get it, where you live, etc. For an idea of what common pets cost, see the chart below:blohchart
  4. Lastly, please consider family planning. Do you have or plan to get other pets? It is important to note that adding a cat, or a hamster, for that matter, to the household where there is already a breed of dog with a high prey drive could be disaster. What about kids? Is the pet you want safe for the kids you have or plan to have? Not all pets are small child friendly – even if it’s just because they are just extremely large breeds – and not all children know how to behave around animals. So, make sure that the pet you get is age appropriate, or that there are safeguards in place for the child and/or the pet. Have you considered special health needs? People who have suppressed immune systems such as diabetics or cancer patients have specific health requirements. An elderly person with thin skin might do better with a fish tank than with a cat or rabbit with long toe nails.

Hopefully, these tips will help point you in the right direction for the perfect addition to your family. And remember, your veterinarian is always happy to talk to you and answer questions if you need help. Please feel free to direct your questions in regard to adding a pet to the household to your veterinary care team at Animal Hospital Champions Northwest and Animal Hospital Jones Road.




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pet Fair on Nov. 7 at Animal Hospital Jones Road

AHJR Pet Fair final2Enjoy a remarkable day of fabulous fun with your pets and their veterinary caregivers at the Animal Hospital Jones Road Pet Fair! All the festivities will be on veterinary hospital grounds at 9570 Jones Road. A few activities include:

  • hospital tour
  • hot dogs and snacks
  • M*A*S*H stuffed animal surgery unit
  • pet Christmas portraits by Victoria*
  • free microchipping*
  • a phenomenal pet product raffle
  • DJ music
  • petformances (dog agility, canine drug recon and protection demos)
  • pet rescue groups
  • giveaways
  • crafts and face painting
  • complimentary pet ID tags
  • … and more fun for everyone!

Animal Hospital Jones Road is donating all raffle ticket proceeds and $5.00 per T-shirt sale to help a group doing important work for Wounded Warriors. To learn about the current raffle items, visit our website, or our Facebook page closer to the event date..

Bring you pets and the entire family!

* there is a $10 pet portrait sitting fee applied to purchase of print(s), and the microchip manufacturer requires $17.99 payment for registry membership

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Pet Christmas Portraits Event Was Pawsome!

We had loads of fun shooting pics of you and your fur babies at our Pet Christmas Portraits event on Saturday, December 6. Special thanks to our technician, Victoria Barton, of Victoria Barton Images, who patiently posed the pets and shot all day, and Tina LaLonde and Elissa Jackman, our practice managers, who were indispensable at the event. We also collected and delivered lots of pet food our visitors donated for Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. Here’s link to some of the cute pet photos from the event.

Posted in Fun Stuff | Leave a comment

Is Your Cat One of Three in the U.S. Infected with Bartonella?

If you are a cat owner in the U.S., the chances of your pet carrying the Bartonella bacteria DSC 020_filteredbware one in three, according to National Veterinary Lab, one of the oldest private veterinary laboratories in the U.S. Some studies (1), however, indicate 41 percent of cats carry the bacteria, but show no symptoms. The real danger of the bacteria is that as a zoonotic, meaning it transfers to humans (and also dogs), where it may cause many health problems.

Despite Bartonella bacteria’s prevalence among the feline population, cat owners know little about it. Healthy cats can carry seven strains of the bacteria family in their blood. Cat to cat transmission is via fleas and ticks, but humans get it from cat scratches, bites, contact with fur and, rarely, by flea and tick bites. Bartonella transmitted from cats can cause 22 different human diseases, the most common of which is cat scratch fever. More than 22,000 human cases occur each year, and about 10% require hospitalization. Most patients develop symptoms about two weeks after the scratch or bite incident, and the first presentation is a red papule (bump) at the site. It progresses when lymph nodes draining the injury become inflamed and enlarged, possibly forming an abscess. Severe and untreated cases may create neurological problems or progress to organ involvement. Other Bartonella diseases are blood disorders, capillary problems, bacterial infections, heart diseases, eye diseases, neurological disorders, musculoskeletal diseases, skin diseases, and co-infection with Lyme disease.

Needless to say, Bartonella is scary and cat owners should beware and be aware of how to prevent and detect it. First and foremost, all cats need to be on flea and tick prevention, regardless of whether the cat lives indoors or outdoors. Indoor cats come in contact with fleas and ticks, so it is imperative to never let prevention lapse. Sadly, vigilant flea and tick prevention may not keep cats safe. The product must prevent the flea or tick from actually biting the cat, and most of the products currently on the market, though effective, do not work in this manner 100% of the time. Additionally, pets adopted as strays or from shelters may develop a Bartonella infestation prior to beginning an at home prevention program. Therefore, the doctors at Animal Hospitals Champions Northwest and Jones Road recommend that all healthy cats undergo the simple Bartonella blood test to make sure the pets are disease free.

Treatment of Bartonella is typically successful with a course of antibiotics and most healthy cats respond to therapy. The veterinarian will retest after completion of the antibiotic cycle, and sometimes a second or third therapy is necessary if the test remains positive. It is possible for a cat to reacquire the disease, thus making flea and tick prevention vital. Additionally, removing the risk factors from the pet’s home environment will add to this protection. The risk factors for Bartonella are originating as a stray, coming from a shelter, living in a multi-cat household, going outdoors and residing in wet, humid areas. Theoretically, that means all cats in the Houston area are at risk. Some cats are Bartonella carriers, and are asymptomatic (show no symptoms of the disease). Those which become sick from the bacteria may experience inflammation in the oral and respiratory mucosa, ocular tissues, the gastrointestinal tissues, the skin and organs such as the liver, spleen and lymph nodes. However, Bartonella penetrates the cells that make up the walls of the capillaries, and because they exist in all tissues, all organs are susceptible.

While cats are the primary hosts of the Bartonella bacteria among domestic pets, dogs can carry it as well. Research indicates that ticks, more often than fleas, transmit the disease among dogs. Therapy for canines is similar to cats. To avoid the risk of Bartonella in your household, we ask that you carefully consider testing your pets for the disease. Peace of mind may well be worth the expense.

(1)Prevalence of Bartonella henselae antibodies in pet cats throughout the regions of North America. J Infectious Diseases 1995: 172:1145-1149

Posted in Pet Health | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Canine Influenza Vaccine?

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In the summer of 2013, Animal Hospitals Champions Northwest and Jones Road, changed their standard canine core vaccination protocol, and added the canine influenza vaccine (CIV). Many clients questioned the addition of another vaccine. Some harbored doubt about the need for protection against canine influenza. The following chronicles our animal hospitals’ experience with the virus and, hopefully, educates clients about the importance of this vaccine.

Canine influenza, an A H3N8 influenza virus, originated in horses many years ago. Isolated outbreaks of canine influenza, or canine flu, appeared in the U.S. in 2004 when this equine virus crossed over to dogs and quickly spread across the country. Non-symptomatic (showing no signs of illness) infected dogs transmit this highly contagious disease through direct contact, the air and contaminated items such as bowls and toys. The symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy, and they typically appear seven to 10 days after exposure to the virus. In severe cases, hemorrhagic pneumonia, pneumonia, and even death are possible.

Once a dog displays symptoms of the disease, it no longer sheds the virus. Grooming salons, dog parks, shelters, boarding kennels, dog shows  – anywhere multiple canines are in close proximity – are the environments where the virus proliferates. There is no instant method of detecting the presence of canine flu. Testing is available for canine influenza virus, but results from diagnostic labs may take up to a week, offering little benefit to a sick patient.

Previously, the general consensus among our veterinarians was most healthy dogs without immunosuppression, weakness or illness recovered on their own or with minor medical intervention. So, when manufacturers first offered CIV, our veterinarians agreed it was optional.

What we learned in July 2013 changed our minds. A lone dog anonymously carried the virus into one of our hospitals. As mentioned, dogs showing no symptoms propagate the disease. Before long, we saw more than 40 cases of canine flu, including one extremely sick patient with hemorrhagic pneumonia – all from dogs that spent a day or more in our hospital. To eradicate the virus cycle, we virtually shut the hospital down for an entire week.  Our veterinary hospital’s outbreak was not an isolated incident; others in the Houston area had similar problems.

As veterinarians, our job is to help keep pets healthy; to make the best recommendation for their care. Failure to recommend the canine influenza vaccine for a dog that has some form of social interaction with other canines is, in our opinion, a lapse in duty. While a strong healthy dog may weather the flu without complications, we cannot make the determination on sight a pet has absolutely no disorders or diseases that may compromise its immune system. The safe and responsible choice is to vaccinate all pets against the virus, and thus lessen the health risk and further spread of the canine flu.

Once vaccinated, it is possible for your pet to contract the virus, but the vaccine lessens the severity of symptoms. To initiate protection, there are a series of two vaccinations three weeks apart, and annual boosters thereafter are necessary. As always, we are happy to answer clients’ questions about the CIV.

Posted in Pet Health | Leave a comment

Useful Fourth of July Safety Tips for Your Pet

flagdogIndependence Day brings celebrations across the U.S. Families and friends gather, barbecues and yard games abound, and the end of day caps with a wondrous display of color in the sky as Americans honor the patriots that adopted the country’s resolution of independence. Yet the Fourth of July is not always a safe day for our pets, but with a little extra care they can have an enjoyable day as well! Try this link for some helpful safety tips for pets and their owners on the Fourth of July.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Rule is: No Chocolate for Pets … Ever!

The words of Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” do not ring true for pets. We know that when pets ingest chocolate, they get sick – in fact, very sick in many cases. Chocolate ingestion in pets can cause a toxicological emergency.

Dogs and some cats find chocolate’s sweet smell and taste as attractive and pleasing as it is to humans. While we cannot say with certainty they do not crave chocolate, most will eat an entire box of bonbons or plate of brownies, if given the opportunity. During certain holidays, such as Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter, temptations abound in many households, as there are often chocolate treats on hand. It is critical pets have no access to them.

Should your pet accidentally ingest chocolate, symptoms appear within one to three hours. They may include heavy vomiting, increased heart rate, hyperactivity, seizures and potential death. It is the methylxanthine theobromine found in chocolate that causes problems, and white chocolate contains the least amount of this substance, although all chocolate will produce toxicity when eaten in dangerous amounts. The link to this chocolate chart created by National Geographic, illustrates toxic levels of each type of chocolate substance by the weight of the dog. Please DO NOT use this chart as a guide for determining if it might be acceptable to give your pet a little chocolate treat. Pets can metabolize substances differently or have a medical condition that increases the risks of chocolate toxicity. Some products to store safely away from pets are: dry cocoa powder, chocolate bars, chocolate cookies and cakes, brownies, baking chocolate, instant cocoa powder, cocoa beans, ground or whole coffee beans, cola drinks, and caffeine containing tablets.

Chocolate intoxication is among the top (most frequent) poisonings reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Treatment includes emesis, or induced vomiting; gastric lavage; and/or activated charcoal absorption. Most cases of animal chocolate toxicity require supportive intravenous fluid therapy and medications to control tachycardia, or rapid heart rate. Many times patients also develop pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas, and recovery can be quite lengthy and expensive.

If your dog or cat eats any amount of chocolate or the substances listed previously, contact your veterinarian for advice on how to proceed with the pet’s medical care. Additionally, the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline, 888-426-4435, is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Animal Hospital Champions Northwest and Animal Hospital Jones Road are open seven days a week, and there is always a veterinarian available for after-hours consultation, should an emergency arise.

Posted in Pet Health | Leave a comment