Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dear Santa letters from the dog and cat

Dear Santa, 

I’ve been such a good, good, dog this year!  My humans say so nearly every day.  I have kept the yard free from squirrels, only chewed up one couch since last Christmas, and I have stopped chasing the cat (well, OK, I’m down to only once a week but still better)!  I am the best snuggler, sloppy kisser, tail wager for miles.  So if possible could I have the following for Christmas?  If not, that’s OK too, we can still be friends.

1. TOYS! – Bring it on – chew toys to keep my teeth healthy, balls for fetching and much needed exercise, puzzle toys for my mental health.  I’m not picky.
2. Treats – I love treats.
3. Walks – I know I have a yard but I love to get out and meet people, sniff a lot, keep my weight down, and get my wanderlust out of my system.  It is so good for me and my human.  So maybe you could bring some extra cold weather gear for my human so we can get out every day!
4. New collar, new leash, and a microchip to make sure I don’t get lost on my walks or while ridding the yard of invading squirrels.
5. Grooming – I want to look great for my Christmas pictures!
6. A professional dental cleaning by my veterinarian – My human sometimes turns their face away during my awesome kissing.  They say I have bad breath, whatever that means.  I don’t always like going to the vet but it keeps my mouth healthy which in turn keeps my other organs healthy as well!
7. More cats to chase, …uh…, I mean play with.
8. Year round heartworm prevention – It tastes delicious and keeps me free of parasites including intestinal parasites that are present year round.  I don’t want to gross out my family.
9. Did I list treats yet?  OK fine, healthy ones like carrots, no salt green beans, apple slices, Cheerios.  I can share them with the Reindeer so we can all be friends.

The Dog


Dear Santa, 

Oh poor guy, you can’t read my mind and know what I want for Christmas?  I guess I can help you out with that.  It goes without saying that I have been a good cat this year.  I let the humans pet me sometimes, I keep a spot on the couch warm, and I only swat at the dog once a week now.   So here is what I require for Christmas:

1. Sufficient litterboxes – We should have as many litterboxes in the house as we have cats + 1.  They should be scooped daily, cleaned weekly, filled with unscented litter,  uncovered, and away from noisy areas of the house.  This helps me be as happy as I can be and minimizes the chances that I will not use the box.
2. A cat tree – I love different levels to play and perch.  It makes me feel safe and allows me to survey my realm.  Who knows, it might even keep the dog safe from me.
3. An annual check-up – I haven’t been to the vet in years.  Yeah, I know I’m low maintenance and I don’t go outside, but I’m also really good at hiding my illnesses and things such as dental disease until much later in their course than the dog.
4. A scratching post – Apparently, the humans don’t like it when I scratch their couch and drapes.  A scratching post will help me direct my natural behavior appropriately.
5. Feather toys and laser pointers – I need exercise and mental stimulation just like the dog!  I only act like I don’t care.  I mean, would I be grooming myself all day if I didn’t want to look my best?
6. Take the dog with you back to the North Pole.  He loves the snow anyway.
7. Catnip
8. Catnip
9. Catnip

With Regards,  
The Cat

article written by:
Jessica Smith, DVM
Companion Animal Hospital Mount Prospect

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

When to consider acupuncture for your pet

Acupuncture is a healing modality that has been used for thousands of years in animals, mostly horses, and people. Acupuncture did not become widely used in pets until the 1990's. Although it's an eastern modality, more acupuncture treatments are done on pets in Europe and the US than anywhere else in the world.

How does it work? Some of the mechanisms are well understood. For pain control, acupuncture stimulates the release of the body’s own Endorphins, which is our own internal source of Morphine, and Enkephalins which is our bodies own aspirin. Painful muscle spasms are also lessened by modulating the nervous system. The way I explain this to my clients is that placing an acupuncture needle in a spasming muscle is like turning off a light switch. I can tell you from my own experience, that this feels great! The ways in which acupuncture helps the healing processes are less well understood. Acupuncture modulates Qi, which is energy that circulates through our body. Qi flows through channels, or meridians. By placing needles at specific points in these meridians, we can alter the flow of Qi and assist our body (or our pets bodies), in the healing process.

The decision to begin acupuncture includes several factors. The most important to me recommending it is, does it work?, and have I used this effectively in the past?. I have performed about 10,000 acupuncture treatments in the last decade. I'm always open to trying acupuncture for something new, but most likely, whatever your pet is experiencing, I've tried acupuncture for this before. As a general rule, I don't use acupuncture as often on young pets or for acute problems. For me, the specifics of your pet’s physical exam and history are extremely important in deciding if acupuncture can be of help.  Another factor to consider is your pet’s response to previous medications, or problems associated with specific medications. Cost is always a factor in considering treatments. A few hundred dollars may be a lot to pay for a case of simple urinary incontinence when an inexpensive medication may do the trick. On the other hand, an MRI that costs $3000 or more for a neurological problem that may not yield a diagnosis, is a lot to pay for a procedure that won't make your pet better.

Here are the conditions I treat with acupuncture: Neurological problems including disc disease, Degenerative Myelopathy, seizures, fecal and urinary incontinence and strokes, arthritis, bronchitis, asthma, inappetence, organ related disease like Liver and Kidney problems, and any night time problems.

The problems I usually do not try acupuncture on are skin and ear problems. Herbal medications, supplements and diet changes can very often be helpful with these problems.

As a general rule, I'll perform acupuncture weekly for 3 weeks and if we do not notice some significant change, we try something else.  

article written by:
Joe Whalen
Hyde Park Animal Hospital & Clinic
Companion Animal Hospitals