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"Of all possessions, a friend is the most precious."

- Heradotus

Many dog owners know the importance of giving their canine companions heartworm prevention, but relatively few cat owners follow suit. It is a common misconception that cats, especially those that live outdoors, are not at risk for heartworm disease. However, heartworms have been detected in cats in all 50 states.

How Do Cats Get Infected?

In a study done in North Carolina, 28% of the heartworm positive cats were indoor only. It is the mosquito that serves to spread the disease from an infected host, and these tiny insects can easily get indoors. The infected mosquito bites a cat, injecting the heartworm larvae into the skin. From there, the larvae migrate through the muscle to the blood vessels and organs, particularly the lungs. The cat’s immune system reacts to these invaders and may be able to keep the larvae from developing into adults. Even if successful, this immune response in and of itself can result in inflammation of the lung tissue, airways and associated blood vessels. Additionally, even the immature larvae can cause physical blockage of smaller vessels, resulting in damage and dysfunction.

Consequently, any signs of heartworm disease that are noticeable in cats tend to be respiratory in nature, thus the term Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD). Fragments of dying worms can also cause blockage of vessels in any area of the body. Aberrant migration of worms to the brain, eye, or spinal cord may manifest in neurological signs.

How Can I Tell if My Cat is Infected?

Symptoms Associated with HARD include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blindness
  • Collapse
  • Convulsions
  • Sudden death

Can I Get My Cat Tested for HARD?

Due to the immune response of the cat, there may be only one or two larvae that manage to develop into adult worms. This makes it difficult to detect their presence, as commonly available tests work by identifying heartworm antigens in the blood sample. These antigens are proteins produced by the adult female worms. A cat could potentially host multiple adult male worms and would still test negative for heartworms.

There are also antibody tests available, which would detect exposure to heartworms, but they do not determine if there are heartworms currently present in the cat. For instance, a cat that was infected but whose immune system was able to prevent all the larvae from developing would have antibodies present, but no active infection.

How Can I Treat My Cat For Heartworms?

Not only are heartworms in a cat difficult to detect, there is currently no treatment available. The drug that is used to treat heartworms in dogs can be fatal to cats. This makes prevention essential to our feline friends’ health.

 

So remember: Heartworms in cats cause damage, are difficult to detect, and can be deadly! Please protect your pets with prevention!

Believe it or not, humans aren’t the only species that get stressed out: dogs have anxiety too! But unlike their two-legged companions, they can’t tell a therapist about it. However, their behavior can speak a thousand words if you know how to listen! In this article, a Raleigh, NC vet discusses how to spot separation anxiety in your dog and what you can do about it.

 

What is Separation Anxiety?

Throughout the day you may have several places to be at once: going to work, running errands, picking the kids up from school, just to name a few. But to your furry friend, you walking out the door means one thing: for an indefinite amount of time, their best friend is gone and that scares them. This is separation anxiety in a nutshell: the distress your dog experiences because you’re not around.

Dog Health Pet Anxiety Raleigh NC

Why Is My Dog Anxious When I’m Gone?

Canines are fundamentally social creatures: in the wild they live in packs, meaning they are rarely alone. So it’s no wonder that even the most domesticated dog will seek out similar companionship. You, your family, and your other pets are your dog’s foster-pack, so it makes sense that being isolated would stress him out!

 

How Can I Tell If My Dog is Anxious?

As we mentioned earlier, your dog can’t tell you he’s anxious with words. Instead, dogs will often demonstrate their anxiety by acting out while you’re away and, oftentimes, these actions are misinterpreted as bad behavior. Some examples of this could include using the bathroom where he shouldn’t, destroying furniture, or clawing/ biting your personal belongings. He may get into the trash and scatter it around the house. He could finally defeat his arch nemesis–that pretty pillow you just got–strew it’s fluffy innards all over the couch. And if you have a doggy camera setup, you may notice him pacing around, waiting at the door, barking or howling, or even trying to escape.

 

How Do I Treat Separation Anxiety?

As always, the best place to start with anxiety treatment is to consult a professional– in this case, your local NC vet! They’ll be able to give you advice depending on how (and to what severity) your canine is acting out. Besides consulting your doggy doctor, there are a few simple dos and don’ts for treating anxiety on your own:

Give him plenty to do while you’re gone: boredom may be contributing to his restlessness!

Take him to the bathroom before you leave: maybe he’s anxiously awaiting your return because he needs to “go”!

Don’t talk to him as you walk out the door: you may be alerting him to your impending absence!

Be patient with your pup: it can take some time to “unlearn” his anxious habits!

And lastly, don’t get upset if he acts up: dogs don’t understand that their behavior is bad, so punishing them for it will probably confuse them. Instead, rewarding your dog for being good is the better route to behavior modification.

 

If you suspect that your pup has separation anxiety, or you simply want to learn more about it, contact us –your Raleigh, NC vet–today!

Many pet owners are not aware that their pets need regular dental care just like people do. They may just consider bad breath to be part of living with a pet. It may be assumed that a normal part of the aging process is for their pet to lose teeth. When you consider that people brush their teeth daily and go to the dentist for cleanings twice a year but dogs and cats may never have any dental care whatsoever, it’s no wonder that they develop bad breath and dental disease. However, it doesn’t have to be this way! In fact, dental care is an important part of a pet’s preventative health care (as well as treatment in cases of dental disease).

The Importance of Pet Dental Hygiene

And while fresh breath and pearly white teeth are pleasant, there are also more important aspects of dental care. Tartar buildup and gingivitis can lead to painful infections of the gums and teeth. This can lead to abscesses and damaged teeth which require extraction. Gum recession can cause otherwise healthy teeth to become loose and fall out.

In addition to affecting the structures of the mouth, dental disease can also lead to infection of internal organs including the heart, liver and kidneys and cause major problems over time. This occurs when infection in the mouth enters the bloodstream and is then spread throughout the body.

Bad Cat Breath kitty dental hygeine

Professional Care vs. At-Home Solutions

Consult A Vet Dentist

So now that you know the importance of dental care for your pet, you may be wondering just what you can do to help. First, let us emphasize that the only way to get rid of tartar build-up is to have your pet come in for a professional cleaning. Attempting to scrape tartar off at home leaves a roughened surface on the enamel of the tooth which actually creates an even better opportunity for more plaque and tartar to form. This scraping also does NOT clean under the gum line (as does the ultrasonic scaler used during a professional cleaning). Not to mention the risk of injuring your pet’s gums if they wiggle or jump at just the wrong time. This is one of those things that you really shouldn’t try at home! However, there are products for home use that can be used as a preventative measure.

 

Things You Can Try at Home

Regular use of preventative care products will slow the development of dental disease and extend the length of time between needed professional dental procedures. Some of these products include pet toothpaste, CET chews, rinses and Aquadent water additive.

Toothpaste

When using toothpaste it is important to use one that is made specifically for pets. Human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed and I’ve yet to see the dog that has been taught to rinse and spit. It is also most beneficial to select one that is enzymatic, meaning it works without having to physically scrub your pet’s teeth with a brush. All that is needed is to place a small amount on your fingertip and smear it along your pet’s gum line. It helps kill the bacteria that allows plaque formation and causes gingivitis.

Dental Chews

CET chews are coated with the same sort of enzyme as the toothpaste and work in the same manner, except it is your pet’s chewing which gets the product into his mouth where it is needed. Chews for dogs look like rawhides, while chews for cats are small and round and come in fish and poultry flavors. It is important to note that particularly for cats, other “dental “ or “tartar control” treats that rely on the cat chewing a hard, dry kibble may not be as effective. This is because cats have teeth that are designed to hold and tear their food, not to grind, so they often will eat such treats whole or shatter the treat with one crunch.

Mouth Rinses

There are also rinses available that are made to be gently squirted along the gum line and are formulated to cling to your pet’s teeth where the product kills bacteria and keeps plaque from forming.
Another easy option is the Aquadent water additive. You simply add a small amount of concentrate to your pet’s drinking water once a day. As your pet drinks, this acts like a mouthwash and can be particularly good for keeping the gums healthy.

All these products are conveniently available at our office. Our staff will be happy to assist you in selecting the best products to use for your pet and also with any dental health questions you may have. Schedule an appointment today!

As your dog ages, he may need some extra special care to keep him comfortable. After all, he’ll still be your same furry friend, he’s just ready for a little R&R! Besides being a good way to pamper your pup, these solutions also serve a more practical purpose: to make daily routines easier and alleviate the pain that might accompany them. In this article, a Raleigh, NC vet discusses ways you can spoil your canine friend!

 

Tips for Caring for Your Senior Dog1 | Pet-Conscious Home Improvement

First thing’s first: who doesn’t love a good bed? There are few better ways to make your dog feel instantly more comfortable than upgrading his favorite snoozing spot. And thanks to the enormous variety of beds available on the internet, you and your dog are certainly spoiled for choice!

Speaking of comfort, we’ve all experienced how unpleasant a crick in the neck can be. Neck straining is another issue that you dog may have as he ages, but thankfully, this can be easily remedied by getting him an elevated dish!

Once he’s well into his golden years, you dog may also need help reaching the same places he used you. For example, if climbing onto the bed or couch is giving him trouble, consider investing in a pet ramp! Ramps can eliminate unnecessary muscle and joint strain by providing an gradually inclined path for your pup!

 

2 | Work Those Muscles

While getting proper, comfortable rest is critical for a senior dog, exercise is just as important. Your canine may not have the same youthful energy he did as a puppy, but even a leisurely walk can do wonders for his health. Please ask your local Raleigh vet for exercise recommendations.

 

3 | Spa Visits

After a jaunt around the neighborhood, a dog massage might be just what the doctor ordered! Not only are massages relaxing, they can also improve blood flow and alleviate muscle soreness.

If you suspect that your dog has persistently achy muscles or joints, be sure that you are consistently trimming your pet’s nails. Long nails could be affecting his stride and putting unfamiliar strain on this frame. In general, keeping up with your dog’s grooming–including coat treatments and teeth cleaning–is crucial to your canine’s health.

 

4 | Regular Check-Ups

In addition to grooming needs, make sure that your dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations and is routinely checked for parasites. Regularly scheduled exams will ensure your veterinarian can check in on your pet’s health, as well as provide preventative care.

 

5 | Love Your Dog

Finally, your dog’s tail may wag a little slower than it used to, but he’s still your furry companion. Be sure to praise him when he’s good, give him his favorite treats, and–as always– shower him with love!

Dog Blog Vet Advice

Would you ever wear a fur coat in the middle of summer? Probably not! Our feline friends, however, don’t have much of a choice in the matter. Summertime can be very dangerous for cats, who can be at serious risk of heat stroke on sweltering days. Panting may help kitties cool off a little, but this isn’t very effective for them. Sweating doesn’t help much either, as cats only sweat through their paw pads. Here are some great tips for keeping your furry pal cool in summer.

Cat health and wellness in Raleigh NC - Falls Village Vet Hospital

1 | Fresh Water

First and foremost, always keep Fluffy’s bowl filled with fresh, clean water. On really hot days, you can drop an ice cube into her water to keep it cooler. If Fluffy is often home alone, consider getting her a water bowl with an automatic dispenser.

2 | Brushing

Brushing Kitty’s fur will remove dead hair and tangles, both of which reduce her fur’s natural insulating properties. Give Fluffy quick grooming sessions every day to help keep her from overheating. Some kitties may enjoy being misted with cool water.

3 | Sleeping Spots

Just like people, kitties instinctively seek out cooler spots to lounge in when it’s hot outside. Make sure your feline pal has access to rooms that have fans or air conditioners. An elevated kitty bed will allow for airflow beneath your sleeping furball, which will help keep her cool.

4 | Playtimes

Our feline friends all benefit from regular exercise, but getting your kitty worked up during the hottest hours of the day can be dangerous. Play with Fluffy in the morning or after dusk. If you walk your cat, avoid taking her out during the hottest part of the day. Toss an ice cube onto the floor for your feline pal to bat around. The cool feeling of ice on hot paw pads may result in feline bliss!

Always monitor your cat for signs of heat stroke. Early symptoms include restlessness, panting, sweaty paws, drool, and unusually heavy grooming. This can be followed by a rapid pulse, vomiting, staggering, and lethargy. If your kitty shows any of these symptoms, contact us right away! Your emergency vet may advise you to take immediate steps to bring Fluffy’s temperature down. Wrapping her in a cool, wet towel, or misting her with cool water in front of a fan, are two things that may help.

All dogs deserve love, but it goes without saying that a pup with poor eyesight needs extra care. Vision problems can occur for a number of reasons: untreated or persistent illness, accidental injuries, or simply because it was an inherited trait. Additionally, old age can take a similar toll on a dog’s eyesight.

Perhaps you’re considering adopting a vision-impaired puppy, or maybe your canine friend has developed a vision problem. Providing the best care may require making a few changes to your home and general routine. In this article, a Raleigh, NC vet hospital offers guidance on how to keep your dog happy and healthy.

 

Safe Home for Pets Raleigh NC1 | Make Your Home a Safe Space

Regardless of whether you’re bringing home a new puppy or caring for a senior dog, your home should be a haven where they can feel safe and secure. One way to achieve this is to block off unsafe areas of your home. For instance, adding a baby gate at the top of your stairs can prevent your canine from taking a dangerous fall. Also consider restricting access to open water sources: backyard pools, ponds, and streams can be very hazardous for a pet with poor vision!

Another way to improve safety for your pup is to keep floors clear by removing tripping hazards, sharp tools, or otherwise dangerous items.

Lastly, refrain from changing room layouts and furniture. Having a predictable floor plan is critical for a dog with poor vision, and this is made exceptionally difficult when things are drastically changed. If you want to move things, do so slowly, one item at a time so your dog can adjust to the gradual change.

 

2 | Make Your Presence (and the Presence of Others) Known

If your pet can’t see you well, they’re naturally going to rely more heavily on their hearing. Approach them loudly to let them know you’re present: this will prevent startling them when you pet their head or rub their belly. Likewise, be sure to let visitors know that your dog is vision impaired so that they can be mindful as well.

Similarly, they may have a more difficult time detecting when your other pets are around. Adding bells to your other pets’ collars is an excellent way to help your poor vision pup keep track of their furry companions.

 

3 | Stay Nearby on Outings

There’s a greater risk to your dog’s safety outside your home or other familiar spaces. Be sure to keep your pet on a shorter-than-normal leash to keep them from wandering where they shouldn’t. And if you have a large yard where you let them out, keep an eye on them as they explore in case they need help navigating back home.

 

4 | Love Your Dog

Losing –or being born without– one’s vision can be a scary process, so be sure to show your dog plenty of affection. Feeling safe and loved will be a tremendous relief to your furry friend.


If you want to learn more about caring for your senior dog, schedule an appointment with your Raleigh, NC vet today!

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the most common disease affecting cats over 7 years of age and is a major cause of suffering and death in senior cats (up to 50% of elderly cats are affected). As cats age, their kidneys begin to lose the ability to function as well as they should. This leads to waste products building up in the blood and a lack of ability to conserve water. The cats become dehydrated despite excessive drinking. The kidneys play a key role in maintaining proper blood pressure, so we often see hypertension in these cats as well.

Symptoms

Signs that may be an indication of CKD include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Drinking and urinating more than usual
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dull, matted coat
  • Sleeping more than normal

cat vet raleigh nc

Most often an increase in drinking and urination is the first change noticed, but unfortunately, many of these signs don’t show until the damage has been done. CKD may also be present despite no obvious signs.

If you believe your cat is showing signs of CKD, contact us –your Raleigh, NC vet– for a diagnostic exam!

Why Do I Need to Clip My Dog’s Nails?

When it comes to nail hygiene, you and your canine friend have more in common than you may realize. Just as overgrown nails can become bothersome for humans, unkempt paws are a pain for pets and can make it hard for them to get traction on smooth surfaces. If you’ve ever played fetch on a hardwood floor then you know what we’re talking about: the Scooby-Doo style running in place, followed by a frantic skid across the room. This slipperiness may cause your pup to adjust their gait, which could lead to poor posture and chronic joint trouble. If their new stride goes unchecked, they could even experience hip dysplasia, arthritis, or other painful conditions in their old age.

If you notice these symptoms when your dog is in hot pursuit of their toy, it may be time for a trim! Here are some helpful tips for giving them a salon-quality “pawdicure.”

Dog toe nail trimming

1 | Teach Your Dog to Be Cooperative

Trimming nails is a team effort, so it’s critical that your furry friend is cooperative. If your dog has never had his nails trimmed –or had a bad experience with it– one way to reduce his anxiety is to get him accustomed to having his paws touched. Teaching him to “Shake” can be a fun and effective solution and can even come in handy when it’s time for a manicure. Just be sure you do this trick for fun as well: otherwise your pup may associate “Gimme Paw” strictly with nail time and shy away from your requests.

Getting your dog used to seeing the clippers can be helpful as well! Simply touch his paw with the trimmers and release (and throw in a treat for good measure)! He will gradually become desensitized to the clippers. Speaking of which…

2 | Get the Right Tools

Investing in a good pair of clippers is another way to make manicure time easier for both you and your canine friend. The clippers you choose should be comfortable and easy to use so you can trim your pup’s nails with confidence. Some modern clippers even have sensors, which tell you precisely where to trim!

3 | Prepare For the Trim

When in doubt, research! Read up on the best clipping methods and make a game plan: for instance, you might start out trimming just the nail tip, then make additional cuts once you’re more comfortable.

Choose a well-lit spot in your home to give you a clear, bright view of your pet’s nails. This will help reduce the risk of overcutting and injuring the quick— the nerve ending on each toe.

And remember: you’re only human. Mistakes happen, so why not prepare for them? Another tool to have handy is a styptic pen or powder, which will help stop the bleeding if you do cut into the quick.

4 | Reward Your Pup

Now that the deed is done, be sure to praise your pup and give him his favorite treat! Not only will he enjoy it, over time he may even associate manicures with rewards, making him even more cooperative during the whole process!

5 | Get Help From the Professionals

If you find that nail trimming makes you uncomfortable, ask your local Raleigh vet for a tutorial! They can show you their preferred method and give you pointers on how to replicate the process at home!

Alternatively, you can even bring your pup in for routine nail trims! Schedule your pet’s mani-pedi with a Raleigh, NC animal hospital today!

Let’s face it: most trends are fleeting. All-denim suits? So 2001. But some fads stick around and if the last few years are any indication, then succulents (and lavish indoor gardens) are here to stay!

Not only are plants are an excellent way to brighten up a room, they can be fun for cats as well! But before you bring home that fiddle leaf fig (fashionable though it may be), take a look at our article, where a Raleigh, NC vet discusses which plants are safe for your feline friend!

Succulents

Let’s get down to business: the plants you’re probably most curious about are succulents. Lucky for you, some of the most stunning varieties are totally safe for cats! Not only that, they also happen to be some of the most widely available kinds: you’re likely to find Painted Lady, Echeveria, Hen-and-Chicks, and variegated Wax Plants at your local home improvement store!

cat safe garden in raleigh nc by falls village vet hospital

Herbs

When it comes to creating a cat-conscious garden, one herb stands out among the rest: catnip! You probably know catnip as the tasty treat that your kitty can’t get enough of. But did you know you can grow it yourself, from the comfort of your own home? This herb is something that cats and cat owners alike can enjoy! Other feline-friendly herbs include such kitchen staples as rosemary, thyme, mint, and parsley.

Flowers

Flowers are an excellent way to add texture and color to your indoor garden! Just be sure you choose non-toxic species, such as Zinnias, Marigolds, and African Violets. If you’re an orchid or lily aficionado, take extra care to select the right ones, as there are many not-so-safe varieties.

Grasses

In addition to catnip, wheatgrass is another plant that cats can’t resist! It can be grown in a range of vessels, be it a small cup, large planter, or even a flat mat! Your furry friend will throw fashion to the wind and munch on it regardless, so the container style is up to you! In the same vein, you can also consider adding lemongrass to the collection!

Potted Trees

Potted trees are an opportunity to add height to your indoor plant sanctuary, and also happen to be exceptionally popular decor accents. Palms tend to be safe for cats, particularly the Ponytail, Peace, Parlor, Golden Butterfly, Good Luck, and Areca varieties. The Money Tree plant is also a safe and stylish addition.

Others

There are plenty of plants that do not fall neatly into any of the above categories, but are no less safe or exciting. These include some types of ferns (such as Boston Ferns), Spider Plants, Cast Iron Plants, Cliff Brake, Chocolate Soldiers and more!

Garden and flowers safe for catsGeneral Safety Tips

Besides the abundant availability of cat-safe plants, there are also many species that you should not bring home to your feline friend. Unfortunately, this includes many of the trendy varieties enjoying the social media spotlight. As we mentioned earlier, the Fiddle Leaf Fig can be dangerous if ingested and should be avoided. The same goes for philodendrons and elephant ears, which are extremely popular as well.

If there’s a plant you’re thinking of buying, we recommend that you consult the ASPCA plant database before you decide. They provide a comprehensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants so you can garden with ease!

If you’ve ever given catnip to your feline friend, you’ve probably witnessed its mysterious effects firsthand and wondered what it is about the herb that makes cats tick. In this article, we hear from a Raleigh, NC vet on this very topic!

First Thing’s First: Safety

We know that a pet owner’s primary concern in their animal’s health, so let’s get the scary question out of the way: Is catnip safe?

Yes! There are no known dangers of giving your cat this tasty treat. In fact, catnip is safe even for human consumption (more on that in a bit). For now, let’s explore what makes this herb so irresistible for felines!

Cat Facts by Falls Village Vet in Raleigh NC

Catnip Fun Facts

When we say irresistible for felines, we truly mean all felines: not only are domesticated cats attracted to the plant, but their larger, wilder cousins are as well! Indeed, catnip has been known to pique the interest of cougars, lynx, lions and tigers, to name a few! This link among all cats is important for a couple of reasons. For starters, now you know what NOT to bring the next time you go hiking or camping! Secondly, this revelation led scientists to discover that cats are especially sensitive to the herb: their noses contain special receptors that match perfectly with nepetalactone, the compound found in catnip. Add to the fact that there are over 250 varieties to choose from, your cat is has plenty of opportunities to experience this interaction firsthand!

Not All Noses Are Created Equal

As the above title implies, cats can have vastly different reactions–or even no reaction at all–to catnip! It’s an acquired taste… literally: kittens don’t seem to notice it until they’re a few months old! Additionally, research suggests that the herb only affects around two thirds of felines, while the remaining third simply go about business as usual. The good news is that figuring out if your cat loves catnip is easy: simply pour a small amount into a bowl and show it to your kitty. Like we mentioned above, reactions will vary, but they usually take one of two courses: your cat could become energetic and excited, demonstrated by running around, “talking” (meowing) a lot, or playing with other pets; alternatively he/ she may become drowsy, evidenced by yawning, drooling, or simply falling asleep!

How long do the effects last?

Let’s say your fluffy friend does have a taste for the herb. How long will he/ she be bouncing off the walls or snoozing lazily in the corner? These effects are very short lived, typically wearing off in 15 minutes or less. He/ she also won’t be susceptible to it again for about two hours thereafter: your kitty’s brain needs some time to “reset.

Humans Enjoy It Too!

If you’re looking for one more way to bond with your feline friend, look no further than catnip! Believe or not, this herb can be used to make soothing teas that are perfectly safe for human consumption. Catnip is also an effective (and safe) repellent for some commonly invasive bugs like cockroaches and mosquitoes. And if you have a green thumb, catnip makes a wonderful addition to any outdoor planter or indoor garden. Just remember that your kitties may develop a knack for gardening themselves!

Interested in learning more about pet health and care? Contact us –your Raleigh, NC pet hospital– today!

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