A Valentine’s Message Regarding Your Pet’s Heart Health

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Cardiology Department at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services! It is our mission to keep your pet’s ticker in tip-top shape. We offer a full range of veterinary cardiology services including:

  • Echocardiography or “echo”:

Echo is an ultrasound of your pet’s heart that allows us to more specifically identify and diagnose problems. We are also able to use advanced techniques in conjunction with this technology such as color Doppler or 3-D imaging to give us even more information. Continue…

New Year’s Resolutions: Tackling Pet Obesity

Obese cat sitting on floorThis time of year, many of us are thinking of our New Year’s Resolutions.  Maybe you are going to quit smoking, make a commitment to hit the gym more often, or spend more time with your kids.  New Year’s Resolutions aren’t just for people, though.  Your pet may have some life changes to make as well!

Did you know that approximately 54% of the nation’s pet population is overweight, with the number getting larger every year?  About 20% of these pets have owners who do not recognize that there is a problem.  We see a lot of these pets here at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services because obese pets are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing problems, kidney disease, exacerbation of osteoarthritis, and a shortened life expectancy.  Many pet owners are either not aware of these health risks, or they find their pudgy pets cute and don’t address the problem.

Here is a different way to think about your pet’s weight according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention:

  • A 95 pound Golden Retriever is equivalent to a 5’4” human female weighing 184 pounds or a 5’9” male weighing 214 pounds.
  • A 10 pound Chihuahua is equivalent to a 5’4” human female weighing 242 pounds or a 5’9” male weighing 282 pounds.
  • A Domestic Shorthair cat that weighs 15 pounds is equivalent to a 5’4” human female weighing 218 pounds or a 5’9” male weighing 254 pounds.
  • A pig ear fed to a 40 pound dog is the equivalent of an adult human drinking 72 ounces of Coca-Cola.
  • A regular dog biscuit fed to a 20 pound dog is similar to an adult eating 2 Keebler Elf Fudge Double Stuffed cookies.

Check out your pet’s Pet-to-Human Weight Equivalent Translator and get tips on safe weight loss in dogs and cats, at this site. It is important that you discuss your pet’s need for weight loss and your plan for accomplishing it with your veterinarian to ensure a successful outcome for your pet.  Please contact us today with any questions or concerns, and have a happy, healthy 2013!

Have a Happy, Safe Holiday Season!

Oakland Veterinary Referral Service wishes you and your furry family a very happy, and above all safe, holiday season this year!  Don’t forget the following during your festivities this year:

  • Dangerous objects

Christmas trees, holiday decorations, and wrapped gifts can all be dangerous items that your pet is not used to having around.  Keep decorations and candles out of the reach of playful paws and wagging tails.  Decorative ribbons, string, and tinsel should also be kept away from pets.  Electrical cords can pose a danger as pets may chew on them or become tangled in them.  Before bringing any plants into your home, be sure to check the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants to avoid problems.

  • Hazardous treats

Food and goodies of all kinds abound this time of year!  Beware of treats containing chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, and the artificial sweetener xylitol.  Table scraps, particularly those that are fatty or rich, can cause stomach upset ranging from mild vomiting or diarrhea to severe pancreatitis.  Don’t forget about alcohol, either.  That punch or eggnog might be irresistible to your pet, but can cause serious problems upon ingestion.

  • Scary situations

Pets don’t always take to the holidays like humans do.  A houseful of noisy strangers can be a disturbing event for shyer animals.  Make sure that they have a quiet, safe place to “hide” away from the hub-bub.  It is also a good idea to make sure that all pets are wearing identification and/or are micro-chipped with your current contact information in case they slip out the door with Uncle Bob.

Ceva – Future Leader Dog for the Blind!

What’s better than a snuggly, happy puppy?  A snuggly, happy puppy with a job description that includes helping others!  Oakland Veterinary Referral Service’s very own Dr. Theresa DePorter has had the honor to help train a puppy named Ceva to become a Leader Dog for the blind.  Ceva earned her name from Ceva Animal Health, who has sponsored her care and training.

Dr. DePorter with Ceva at Leader Dog School

Dr. DePorter with Ceva at Leader Dog School

Dr. DePorter, along with an experienced Leader Dog trainer, took on the important task of
training Ceva to be the best guide dog possible.  Tremendous dedication was required as Dr. DePorter spent the first year of Ceva’s life exposing her to all sorts of situations and locations similar to what she will face on duty.  This has helped Ceva to build a foundation that will allow her to be comfortable and confident for her future owner.   Because a guide dog is expected to keep her owner safe in any range of situations, Dr. DePorter took Ceva many places throughout her training including restaurants, veterinary conferences, and even New York City!  This taught Ceva to be very good at ignoring distractions, even tasty ones!

In October, Ceva “graduated” to Leader Dog, where she will continue her training before being placed.  This is the equivalent of her heading off to college!  Dr. DePorter misses Ceva, but is very proud of her.  We are all excited for Ceva to continue on to help someone in need.  Feel free to follow Ceva along with us on her very own Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/cevaleaderdog

The “C” Word

It’s the one word pet owners dread hearing- cancer.  Sadly, various types of cancer are very common in pets and accounts for nearly 50% of all disease-related deaths each year.  At this point in time, cancer is not really preventable, but early detection is key to treatment success.  By paying attention to the following signs, you may help bring an issue to your veterinarian’s attention that could save your dog or cat’s life.

  • Swellings – Lumps and bumps are not an uncommon finding, and many are harmless.  Be sure to point them out to your veterinarian though, especially if they are not going away or are growing.
  • Odors – More than just a stinky dog?  Truly offensive odors need to be checked.
  • Abnormal discharges – Diarrhea, vomiting, blood, and pus are never normal.  Similarly, sudden bloating of the belly can be a sign of a problem.
  • Non-healing wounds – Infection, skin disease, or certain types of cancer can all present similiarly.
  • Weight loss – Unless your pet is on a diet, sudden weight loss should always raise a red flag.
  • Appetite changes – Decrease or increase in appetite can be a clue that something is not right and needs to be investigated.
  • Coughing or breathing difficulty – The heart and lungs can be the culprits here, however many types of cancer can spread to the lungs, causing these symptoms.
  • Change in behavior – If your pet is acting lethargic, depressed, or distraught, it may be a symptom of a health issue.
  • Change in bathroom habits – Difficulty using the bathroom, increased potty breaks, and bloody urine or stool may not always signify cancer, but they are never normal.
  • Pain – Limping or tenderness can be caused by a variety of things, but some types of cancer (such as bone cancer) may show up similarly.
If you have any questions contact us or reach out to your primary veterinarian.

CareCredit: A Payment Alternative

Care Credit CardSometimes life’s unexpected expenses add up.  When your pet is facing major veterinary needs, it can be difficult enough to make decisions, let alone weigh cost into the mix.  CareCredit is an alternative payment option to traditional credit cards or loans that can help you afford the care you want for your pet, when you want it.  While CareCredit works like a credit card, it is different in several ways:

  • CareCredit can only be used at approved healthcare providers, including many veterinarians.  This helps you to use your credit wisely and pay cash for other things.
  • Every time you use your CareCredit card, you are eligible for special financing plans.  This can include no interest if paid in full within the 6, 12, 18, or 24 month period determined by the amount of the charge.  While minimum monthly payments are required, you may pay off your balance before the end of the promotional period.
  • Once approved, you can start using CareCredit immediately.  You can apply conveniently over the phone or online before taking your pet in to the vet and use your credit line that day.

CareCredit is a great way to pay for the medical care your pet needs now while spreading the cost out over a longer time period.  For more information, or to apply online, visit www.carecredit.com.