Category Archives: Medical Advice

Did you know that obesity is not just an epidemic in humans but also in pets? According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), over 57% of dogs and 52% of cats are obese and these numbers are on the rise. Much like humans, obesity in pets can lead to diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, joint problems, and ultimately a shortened life expectancy.

Based on a survey created by APOP, a surprising 93% of dog owners and 88% of cat owners thought their pet was in the normal weight range. This disparity is known as the “fat gap” and is thought to be one of the primary factors in the growing rate of pet obesity. To tell if your pet is a healthy weight, use this scoring system. Your pet should rank at about a 3 if he or she is a healthy weight.

To keep your pet at a healthy weight, take care in providing him or her with a healthy diet and ensuring the proper amount of exercise. Pet foods have become more calorically dense and people are feeding their pets more. If your pet is already overweight or obese, talk to your veterinarian about the best course of action. Your vet will probably recommend a controlled diet and specific type of food.

It can be hard to know what the proper caloric intake and weight should be for your pet so APOP has provided a few useful tables to help. This information does not replace the advice of your veterinarian and should only be used as a starting point.

Pet Caloric Needs – https://www.petobesityprevention.org/pet-caloric-needs/

Ideal Weight Ranges – https://www.petobesityprevention.org/ideal-weight-ranges/

By Brian Miller

With spring finally here, it means that here in Central New York, we can finally put away our boots and coats, and tuck the mittens away for another few months. Though we’ll all be happy to get outdoors to enjoy the few fleeting weeks of beautiful weather, if you are pet owner, it is important to be cognizant that flea and tick season is upon us. I spoke with Dr. Maghan Wormuth to discuss some of the key things to be mindful of over the course of the ensuing months.

Why is so important for pet owners to be aware of flea and tick season?
It is important to realize that aside from being an annoyance, these parasites can cause health issues for your pet. Ticks have the potential to carry Lyme disease, which has become prevalent in this region. Ticks can also carry Ehrlichia and anaplasmosis which are two other diseases that can afflict your dog.

As far as fleas are concerned, many dogs and cats suffer from flea allergies. These allergies may cause your pet to scratch and itch a lot, and as a result, they can suffer from dermatitis. For these reasons, it is important for your pet to remain on a flea and tick preventative year round.

shutterstock_31893043What are some of the common misconceptions about fleas and ticks?
Some people believe that fleas and ticks are only a problem in the summertime, when in actuality, they are a year-round concern. Any time temperatures rise above freezing, ticks will be out. We have seen dogs come in with ticks attached to them in January. Though fleas seem to be a huge concern in the spring and the summer, the time of year we see them the most is in the fall. Regardless of the time of year, once fleas have infested your home, it can take months to get them out. Again, this is why we stress the importance of year-round preventative.

You briefly mentioned it in one of your prior answers, but can you speak a little more about some of the major concerns associated with fleas?
We see a lot of pets who suffer from dermatitis due to having an allergy to the fleas, and this can lead to infection. Additionally, fleas can carry parasites. Many times, we see cats who are not on a preventative come in with tapeworms because they are grooming themselves constantly, and they are ingesting the parasitic fleas. We see this in dogs as well, but it is not as common.

We find that many people believe that if their cat stays strictly indoors, that they will never get fleas. Fleas can enter the home on your clothing, or on your shoes, or if you are visiting someone who has fleas in their home. Cats are so meticulous about grooming, that many times, owners are unaware their pet has fleas until they begin showing signs and symptoms. 80% of all skin problems we see in cats are the direct result of fleas. Because of this, it is very important to remember that each and every pet in your home should be on a year-round preventative. It only takes one unprotected animal to cause a flea infestation in the home, whether they go outside or not. If you have an exotic pet such as a ferret or guinea pig, you should speak to your doctor about protecting them as well.

What do you recommend for flea and tick control?
Like all medications, it depends on the animal. Whichever preventative an owner decides to try, it is important to use something that your veterinarian recommends, and to avoid over-the-counter products unless specified by a doctor. Here at Liverpool Animal Health Center, we are recommending Bravecto, which is a new oral preventative for dogs. The great thing about this product is that one tablet provides protection for 12 weeks. It is very convenient to administer, and because it is not applied directly to the skin, there is no concern that it can be washed off.

For cats we generally recommend using Revolution. This is a topical medication that not only protects cats against fleas, but provides heartworm prevention, and does intestinal parasite deworming. Unless your cat goes outdoors and has a problem contracting ticks, Revolution is what I generally recommend. If ticks become an issue, then I typically advise the client to try using Frontline Plus. Though ticks do not generally pass diseases to your cat, these parasites certainly can carry diseases that be contracted by their owners.

By Brian Miller

While it may be hard for us in Central New York to believe it, spring is finally here!  As we shake off the winter blues and head outside to enjoy the milder temperatures, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the health and safety of your pets.  I sat down with Dr. Jason Hutt to discuss some of the most important things for owners to remember with the dissipation of the snow, and the emergence of the sorely missed sunshine.

What are some of the most common problems cats and dogs face this time of year?
Some of the most common problems are due in large part to the changing weather. Pets will be spending more time outdoors, and as the snow melts, different hazards may become more apparent than they were when the snow was thick and deep. These hazards include animal feces, garbage, and foreign objects that dogs may choose to ingest. It is a good idea to take a look around your backyard, and see if there is anything out there that may seem enticing for your pet to eat, or if there are any other objects that they may injure themselves on. Melting ice can be sharp and may cut the feet of your pet as they step through it.

Are there other hazards that owners should be aware of when heading outside with their pet in the spring?
A thing to keep in mind is that flea infestations that may have lain dormant in the winter are likely to become active again in spring. With “wet” weather becoming more prevalent, you do want to be aware of diseases such as leptospirosis which is often associated with shutterstock_189871142wildlife. So, if you camp or hike, or your dog has potential exposure to wildlife, you want to make sure that your dog is up-to-date on their leptospirosis vaccination. This particular vaccine is not one of the core vaccinations, so be sure to discuss leptospirosis with your veterinarian if you believe your dog may be at risk. Lyme disease is also a big concern for all dogs that are going outside. It only takes a couple of days above freezing for ticks to come back out. We highly recommend that all dogs get vaccinated for Lyme, so that they are protected all year round, even if they are on a flea and tick preventative.

Have you seen Lyme disease become more prevalent in this area?
Absolutely. We have seen a marked increase in incidents of Lyme disease over the course of the past 5 or 6 years. According to the statistics we received from our reference laboratory, between 7% and 9% of dogs tested in Onondaga County were positive for Lyme in 2014. This is in stark contrast to 10 years ago, when only 2% to 4% tested positive for the disease. Starting in 2011, we began recommending that all dogs who go outside receive the Lyme vaccination. Some owners are still unaware of the dangers of this emerging disease, so here at Liverpool Animal Health Center, we take every opportunity to educate our clients. Despite some common misconceptions, it is vital to remember that your dog doesn’t have to be in the woods to contract the disease because ticks are in the yard, on the sidewalk, and can be found in cities and towns alike.

If a dog has been cooped up inside because of the harsh winter, is there anything to remember before letting them back outside?
Dogs, like people, are athletes in a lot of ways. If they have been athletic all winter long, they can continue to enjoy that same amount of high level activity. On the other hand, many dogs have a prolonged period of decreased activity in the winter, and as the weather changes, you need to be cognizant of their physical fitness and the amount of exercise that they can handle in order to avoid injury. You should increase the amount of exercise gradually to improve conditioning. Another thing to be mindful of is rising temperatures. Many people don’t realize that even relatively mild temperatures in the 70’s can cause overheating when pets aren’t yet acclimated to the climate change.

Is there anything owners should know before letting their cat outside?
The most important thing to remember when letting your cat outdoors, is that not only do they need to be spayed or neutered, but that they also need to be up-to-date on all of their routine tests and inoculations. In addition, be sure that they are on an excellent flea and intestinal parasitic control to ensure that they are not picking up any preventable diseases.

What are your thoughts on bringing a dog to a community dog park?
Socialization is as important to dogs as it is to humans, and when you are congregating with a large number of people and pets, it’s really no different than sending your child to school; you want to make sure that they have all the appropriate requisite vaccines to avoid preventable diseases. You also want to be aware of opportunistic diseases such as parasites. It is very easy for a dog who is carrying a parasitic disease to infect others if they are not protected. You are never going to be able to control how other people are caring for their pets, but if you are taking preventative measures with flea & tick preventative, and a heartworm preventative (which also gives them intestinal parasite control), you are doing everything you can to halt opportunistic parasites from infecting your pet. Having said all of that, socializing your dog in a positive environment far outweighs the relatively low risk of possible contamination as long as your dog is being treated properly with the recommended preventatives.