Month: March 2012

Pet First Aid Kit

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From the Pet Poison Helpline:

Never administer anything with your new first aid kit  without calling us or a veterinary poison hotline first.  This is especially important regarding anything with your pet’s eyes or anything it has ingested.

Another important thing to keep in mind is home remedies. When it comes to our pets and poisons, we don’t want to chance endangering our pet’s lives with some made up, Internet-discovered, erroneous home remedies! We hear it all – owners who use milk, peanut butter, vegetable oil, or salt…and these remedies are all WRONG! Please know that these products should NEVER be administered as they don’t work!

Please see our section on important numbers for help with a poisoning.

Contents of a first aid kit:

  • Hydrogen peroxide 3% (within the expiration date)
  • An oral dosing syringe or turkey baster (for administering hydrogen peroxide)
  • Teaspoon/tablespoon set (to calculate the appropriate amount of hydrogen peroxide to give)
  • Activated charcoal
  • Digital “fever” thermometer
  • Liquid hand dish washing detergent (i.e., Dawn, Palmolive)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Triple antibiotic ointment (with NO other combination ingredients – NOT for use in CATS!)
  • Vitamin E oil
  • Diphenhydramine tablets 25mg (with NO other combination ingredients)
  • Ophthalmic saline solution or artificial tears
  • Sweet electrolyte-containing beverage
  • Corn syrup
  • Vegetable oil
  • Bandage material- gauze and non-stick bandages and tape
  • Scissors
  • Soft muzzle
  • Sterile dressing
  • Diluted betadine solution
  • Leash
  • Tweezers
  • Splint material
  • Cotton balls
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Important Phone Numbers

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Poison Phone Numbers

  • Pet poison Helpline- 800-213-6680
  • Animal Poison Control Center-  888-426-4435
  • National Animal Poison Control Center- 800-548-2423
  • Kansas State University- 758-532-5679

Be prepared to give the following information:

  • Your name, address and telephone number
  • Any information regarding the exposure (ie; the amount of poisonous product, the amount of times since the exposure to the poison, etc.)
  • The species of animal, breed, age, sex, weight and whether or not more than one animal is involved
  • The name of the poison or type of poison that the animal was exposed to, if you know (provide as much information as possible)
  • What problems or symptoms that your animal or animals are experiencing
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Household Poisons

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Many common pet poisons are in our homes and yards. Some of the more common ones to watch for are:


  • Methylxanthines- chocolate and caffeine
  • Ethylene glycol- antifreeze
  • Indoor plants
  • Metaldehyde- snail bait poison
  • Household cleaners- bleach and lye
  • Silica gel packs
  • Acetaminophen- tylenol
  • Xylitol- sugar free sweetener in chewing gum
  • Rat poison
  • Fertilizers
  • Insect bait stations
  • Walnuts
  • Alcohol
  • Strychnine
  • Insecticides
  • NSAID’s- Ibuprophen

Helpful Tips:

  • Keep medications off night table
  • Plastic weekly pill holders look and sound like dog rattle chew toys
  • Keep purses with medication high and out of reach
  • Store pet medications apart from human medications
  • Do not store multiple day medications in a plastic storage bag
  • Do not store medications in Greenies or Pill Pockets lest other pets eat them.

Poison Emergency Phone Numbers

    • Pet poison Helpline- 800-213-6680
    • Animal Poison Control Center-  888-426-4435
    • National Animal Poison Control Center- 800-548-2423
    • Kansas State University- 758-532-5679

    In the Event of an Emergency, be Prepared to give the following information:

    • Your name, address and telephone number
    • Any information regarding the exposure (ie; the amount of poisonous product, the amount of times since the exposure to the poison, etc.)
    • The species of animal, breed, age, sex, weight and whether or not more than one animal is involved
    • The name of the poison or type of poison that the animal was exposed to, if you know (provide as much information as possible)
    • What problems or symptoms that your animal or animals are experiencing






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    Home Care of the Surgical Patient

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    When you pick up your pet after surgery you will be given a chance to talk with our staff or surgeon, and be given post operative instructions specifically for your pet and the surgery performed. These are the instructions to follow. The information on this page is good general information on other things to do at home, as long as they don’t contradict your post operative instructions.

    When your pet first returns home from surgery let it have a calm and quiet spot away from other pets and children. Put it in a warm area without any drafts, and make sure it is able lay down on something comfortable.

    It might be lethargic from anesthesia and the pain medication it has received, which is what we want so that it is comfortable and does not bother the incision site.

    After it is home and settled, offer a small amount of water. Even though most pets are fasted prior to surgery, at our hospital they are give intravenous fluids before, during, and after surgery, so do not worry if your pet does not drink initially.

    If it drinks, and does not vomit, offer small amounts of water periodically over the next several hours, and then offer small amounts of food the same way. Give it a chance to go outside to the bathroom several times.

    Use all medication, especially pain medication, as directed. What might seem like pain can sometimes be confusion after the day’s activities and surgery. It is rare for a pet to be painful after surgery. We take special precautions so that does not happen. Some of these precautions include:

    Preanesthetic pain patch and sedation

    Local anesthetic at the surgical site

    Laser surgery

    Post operative pain injection

    Post operative pain medication at home

    We go overboard on pain control, and in addition to all the pain medications already mentioned, we use the cold laser to minimize swelling and post operative pain at the incision site while your pet is still under anesthesia. This cat is getting this treatment after its spay (OVH) surgery

    Here it is in action after a dog neuter

     Indications that your pet is in pain include:


    Excess panting

    Unable to find a comfortable place to sit or lay down

    If your pet seems painful several hours after returning home please call us. Our anesthesia page has more on pain control and the precautions we take to minimize pain.

    Many pets will go home with an E-Collar (Elizabethan Collar) to prevent them from licking or chewing at the incision site. Leave this collar on at all times until sutures are removed, unless you are in direct supervision. Some people take the collar off after a few days when healing is progressing well and the collar seemingly is not needed. This coincides with the itchy phase of the healing process, and pets can cause damage to the incision, or worse.


    Make sure you put your E-Collar on your pet and not on yourself!

    Observe the incision site several times per day. A minor amount of redness and swelling is usual. If it seems excessive call us and we can check it if necessary.


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    In Home Exam

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    Pets are experts at hiding illness, so paying close attention to the hidden physical changes that preceed some diseases can be highly beneficial. There are several basic physical parameters that you can assess at home on a weekly basis to alert you to a medical problem before it becomes entrenched and difficult to treat. If you find a problem with any of these physical exam findings bring your pet in for one of our doctors to confirm there is a problem and make a specific diagnosis.

    Lets start at the front and work our way back.


    Look for redness, discharge, squinting, or swelling.

    The pigmentation on the white part of this dog’s eye has the potential to be a malignant cancer. Catching this change early can make a big difference in saving this eye.

    A tumor in a dog's eye

    Always compare both eyes during your exam. The natural symmetry will allow you to identify a problem like this dog with different diameter pupils.

    Different diameter pupils from a neurologic problem called anisocoria


    Smell them for odor and look for redness or discharge.

    The pinkish color to this ear is not normal, and can be caused by several things. Our ear page has more information.

    Inflamed ear flaps (pinna) from chronic atopy

    Mucous membranes

    Assuming it is safe to look in your pets mouth lift up its jowls and look at its gums. They should be pink. They should not be blue, grey, white or red. If you see any of these abnormal colors your pet should be brought to us immediately. While you are there look for tartar on the teeth or inflamed gums or bad breath.

    These gums are nice and pink, the only color they should be

    Normal pink gums

    While you are there look at the teeth for tartar and gingivitis, the tongue for any problems, and the gums for any growths like this dog.

    Mouth tumor


    Rub your hands thoroughly over your pets whole body weekly to look for lumps or bumps or areas of inflammation or hair loss. Look and feel around the ears, abdomen, anus, and genitals.

    Take your time and be observant. This almost imperceptible red area at the arrow is a malignant tumor called a mast cell (MCT).

    Skin tumor called a mast cell tumor (MCT)

    Lymph node exam

    Your pet has many lymph nodes. Some are inside the body, some are outside. The lymph nodes on the outside of the body are called peripheral lymph nodes and can be palpated.  When you check these lymph nodes you are feeling and looking for:

    Swelling or pain or heat

    Enlargement- most should feel the size of a marble or less (depends on the size of your pet). If one of them is larger than this, painful, or the area around it is swollen or painful, it should be examined by one of our doctors.

    Each of the lymph nodes we want you to check comes in pairs on each side of the body. This symmetry helps you in determining if one of them is large or not.

    Enlargement of the peripheral lymph nodes can be for several reasons:

    Inflammation- pets with chronic skin conditions, inflammatory reactions, or allergic reactions can have an enlarged peripheral lymph node.

    Infection- pets fighting infections, or a lymph node draining a specific infected area of the body, might be enlarged. We diagnosed a case of Valley Fever in a dog once based on an enlarged popliteal lymph node.

    Cancer (Neoplasia)- pets with lymph node cancer (lymphoma, lymphosarcoma) will have an enlarged lymph node usually somewhere in its body.

    There are 4 peripheral lymph nodes you can palpate as part of a weekly health exam.  We can demonstrate how to find them next time you bring your pet to us. (Thanks Doyle for being a good guinea pig for the photos). In most cases if you do not feel any lymph nodes that is OK because it means they are not enlarged.

    1. Submandibular

      Submandibular are under the angle of the jaw. Use your thumb and index finger and palpate both at the same time.

      Dog submandibular lymph node palpation

    2. Pre-scapular

      Use your hand in a sweeping motion and feel right in front of the shoulder

      Dog prescapular lymph node palpation

    3. Axillary

      Stand alongside your pet and simultaneously rub along the ribs with both hands under the armpits. Make sure you are palpating behind the leg so move your hands way forward as you feel for the axillary lymph nodes.

      Dog axillary lymph node palpation
    4. Popliteal

      They are located on the back of the leg opposite side of the knee.

      Dog popliteal lymph node palpation


    When your pet is at rest observe how many times per minute it breathes. A typical dog or cat breathes 20-40 times per minute at rest, although this is variable. What we want you to observe is a change in the respiratory rate. Write down the rate on a calendar on a weekly basis and look for trends of increasing rate. If for several months in a row the rate is 35, and now it is 60 every time you observe, that is a reason to bring in your pet for an exam.

    This is particularly important in pets that have heart disease or asthma.

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    Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

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    Dental disease is prevalent in almost every adult dog and cat we examine. Prevention is the key, and in addition to professional cleaning which we provide, the most important thing you can do is to brush your pets teeth. If started at an early age this “bonding time” is an enjoyable time for all. Start the brushing when the adult teeth are in, which is around 5 months of age. We can tell you if you are not sure.

    People sometimes wonder why pets need their teeth professionally cleaned by us and brushed by you when they have memories of growing up with dogs and cats and never doing this. It doesn’t take much to answer this question. Pets nowadays eat diets that makes them prone to plaque. They also live longer, and just like in people, are more prone to disease. A big reason is because we did not have the knowledge decades ago to understand how dogs and cats lived lives of chronic pain because we did not know or could not diagnose. With the advent of digital radiography and our body of knowledge we realize that we did not treat dental disease anywhere near as thoroughly as needed.

    One of the most important things you can do to slow down the recurrence of dental disease is to brush your pets teeth. This will help keep the gums healthy and prevent tartar buildup on the teeth on the cheek side (buccal) of the mouth, although it does not work as well on the teeth on the tongue (lingual) side of the mouth. Even though this may sound like an impossible feat for an uncooperative pet, or even a ludicrous idea, it is one of the best ways to prevent dental disease.

    Even though the teeth will eventually need professional cleaning again in the future (most people get their teeth cleaned several times per year), proper brushing will decrease the amount of dental disease that occurs and the number of times we will have to clean your pet’s teeth over its lifetime. Due to the short life span of pets in relation to people, proper home care of your pet’s teeth becomes an important health measure.

    When brushing the teeth there are some common sense things to do to make the process go smoother. One of our technicians will demonstrate some of these techniques with one of our hospital cats (they love the attention). It is important to remain calm and patient, since for most pets having something put into their mouths is a new experience. With a little tincture of time, the procedure progresses smoothly. also, it is highly advantageous to start the brushing process at an early age. Patience is the key! Try to do something positive (feeding it, playing or walking)  with your pet just after brushing to condition the behavior for the future.

    Try to make the whole process fun, and don’t ever let on that you are doing something good for your pet (kinda like child psychology- if its good for them they won’t do it). With your pet near you or on your lap, maybe while watching TV, let your pet get used to your finger near its mouth. Dipping your finger into a food or liquid your pet has acquired a taste for helps start the process smoothly. When it is comfortable with your finger, use a soft gauze to massage the gums and gently rub the teeth. a cotton tipped applicator can also be used. Eventually you want to progress to a toothbrush.

    In smaller pets, especially cats, proper restraint is important. There needs to be a proper balance between too little and too much restraint, a balance that varies with each pet. This is especially true with cats. For smaller pets, placing them on a table will make the process go smoother. Larger pets can also be placed on a table, if feasible, or can be restrained on the ground. Only one or two people should be involved in the cleaning process, usually without children present. We have a complete page demonstrating this restraint technique.

    Eventually, introduce a soft bristled toothbrush. These toothbrushes are available in our dental kits. A rubber finger brush can be used but a toothbrush is preferred. You should not use your personal tooth paste to brush your pet’s teeth because the taste can upset their stomachs. Our dental kit has toothpaste that is specially made to be palatable to animals. These kits also have suggestions to make it easier to brush your pets teeth. If you consider daily tooth brushing a chance to enhance your bond with your pet, you and your pet will find it more enjoyable.

    Brush the teeth in a slow and circular motion with a small amount of toothpaste. Its important to brush the outside of the teeth (the teeth up  against the lips and not the teeth up against the tongue) since that is where the plaque is most prevalent. If your pet is cooperative brush the insides next. Your goal is to brush at least 3 times per week. This will decrease plaque by 90%.

    If you encounter resistance on a pet that normally lets you brush, or see blood or there are blood tinges on the toothbrush, smell any odor, see any inflamed area or swelling, or a buildup of tartar or inflamed gums, you should bring your pet in for an exam. If the tartar is significant it is time for a professional cleaning.

    The brown staining at the top of this tooth is plaque.  The reddish gumline just above the plaque is gingivitis. It is time for a professional cleaning when you see this.

    Canine gingivitis

    In some cases brushing is just not feasible. In these situations you can use sprays, gels and chew toys to control the buildup of bacteria. Another excellent way to prevent the tartar buildup that leads to gingivitis is the food called T/D. It is particularly useful for small breed pets, which are prone to significant dental disease.

    Just like in people, routine preventive care is critical to proper dental hygiene. This saves your pet from extended periods of pain and unnecessary tooth loss, and can save you the expense of the veterinary care needed to treat advanced dental disease. Your pet’s teeth should be checked every 6-12 months by one of our doctors, especially if it has already had gingivitis and had its teeth cleaned. Any pet that has had periodontal disease should be checked every 3 months. One of these check ups can be accomplished when your pet is brought to our hospital for yearly booster vaccinations.

    You can learn much more about how we care for dental disease in dogs and cats by going to our Dental Page.

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    Home Care

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