True care VH will be closed Monday, May 27th in observance for Memorial Day. Be safe!

A Guide for Owners of Healthy Pets

Health is based on many things. Some things, such as genetics, are beyond control, but thankfully, may other health components are. These are providing balanced nutrition, ensuring hydration, controlling parasites, minimizing exposure to disease and maintaining an active physical and emotional lifestyle – just as in people! Let True Care help achieve these things!

Canine Preventative Care

True Care VH generally recommends the following preventative care measures for your dog. These recommendations, specific to our geographical area, address the major health issues facing our pets and which can be prevented or controlled. This is a brief guide – dog owners have access to a wealth of information pertaining to dogs health and life styles.

We DO NOT recommend treatments or procedures which are harmful to your dog, however, no vaccine or treatment is without the potential for problems. Feel free to discuss any aspect of our recommendations with you so that the wellness needs of your pets are maximized. As with any aspect of health – the emphasis should be on routine prevention. We have provided links to some of the best online resources for you to gain more information! Know what care your dog is receiving – become an informed owner!

Keep the level of anxiety down on the day of an appointment – pay little attention to your dog beyond their basic needs to prevent “wind-up”.

Just as in human medical offices, we should demonstrate a basic level of courtesy and etiquette. Please help us to help your dog during the entire process. Make sure you adequately walk your dog prior to the visit so they can be relieved and be more comfortable at the clinic. Always have your dog on a leash (retractable leashes are NOT recommended – lock them if you use them). Do not allow your dog to urinate and defecate in the common areas – make sure they are adequately walked – we have a large green space for this – please pick up solid wastes for disposal. Rugs and cat trees are NOT for urinating on. Please inform us if there has been an accident so it may be cleaned promptly without exposing other dogs and their owners to animal waste.

Please keep your dog away from other dogs at the clinic – you have no idea why the other dog is there or if they may be fear aggressive. Please follow the instructions of our staff – we have safety and disease protocols designed to protect your dog. In the exam room, maintain control of your dog with a leash at all times and keep the noise and anxiety level down – please control any children as their noise and activity will not help your dog cope – we are open to answering questions from curious kids at the appropriate time. Please bring your dog’s favorite treat to be used during and after their visit – these should only be used to reward good behavior.

Please do not call your dog a “good dog” if they are behaving badly – this just keeps them behaving badly and makes a meaningful examination difficult. Instead, work with our staff to make your dog’s visit as pleasant as possible. Please let us know if your dog has a history of bad/aggressive behavior at the veterinary office so we may prepare – in some cases, muzzles and medications are essential so that we may examine and treat your dog where appropriate. In some instances, it may be better for the dog, and safer for our staff, to examine and vaccinate your dog away from you. Please discuss any concerns you have regarding this. Dogs receive a full physical examination regardless of where they are – but this depends on the dog and you. We never perform any unnecessary treatments or procedures without your knowledge – unless in an emergency. Finally, please be mindful that while you are there – someone else may be saying goodbye to their fur baby!

All dogs: rabies, distemper-parvo-hepatitis-parainfluenza, leptospirosis

  • If your dog will board at a kennel, go to dog parks, go to grooming facilities where other dogs are present, attend day care or puppy classes or any other situation where random dogs may be, then vaccination against Bordetella (part of kennel cough complex) is recommended at least 48 hours prior.
  • If you chose NOT to rabies vaccinate your pet and procedure or hospitalization is needed, the rabies vaccine IS REQUIRED!
  • If your dog is routinely picking up ticks or travels to heavy tick (endemic) areas then Lyme vaccination in addition to flea and tick control measures is recommended.
  • We do not “bully” you into vaccines – we recommend and you decide!
  • Rabies titers are not acceptable in lieu of vaccination – there can be significant legal trouble should an unvaccinated pet bite another animal or a human.
  • Titers are available for canine distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus – these can be checked yearly until a fail in which case boosting is recommended.
  • Vaccine reactions are rare and when they occur they are mild; it is important to note which vaccines may have been an issue and discuss with the doctors any concerns for future vaccination; as a rule, no more than two needle delivered vaccines should be given to any dog during any single visit (in some cases, intranasal kennel cough can be given with two other needle vaccinations); it is best to synchronize the three-year vaccines and the one-year vaccines at different visits. We NEVER give leptospirosis combined with any other vaccine in the same needle.
  • In some cases, we may recommend discontinuing certain vaccines due to risk and health status of your dog – these decisions should be made carefully (risks-benefits weighed).
  • Please refer to American Animal Hospital Association.

Parasites are everywhere, always evolving and can be difficult to control for a variety of reasons. A stool sample should be tested yearly in ALL dogs regardless of lifestyle. Some parasites have the potential to cause disease in people (zoonosis) and especially in the young and old. Good hygiene should be exercised by all family members to limit disease risk. You should notify your pediatrician or family doctor should your pet be diagnosed with parasites.

All dogs should be on year around control for:

  • Heartworm, Fleas/Ticks
  • Intestinal Parasites (roundworms, hookworms, whipworms)
    • Tapeworms should be controlled if fleas are controlled (in general)
    • If you do not use a broad-spectrum monthly heartworm product then a general, broad-spectrum deworming should be performed at least every 6 months.
  • Regarding Heartworm Testing:
    • If your dog is on year around prevention True Care recommends testing every-other-year.
    • If your dog receives a preventative for 9 months or less each year then testing should be performed yearly.
    • Testing is recommended by the American Heartworm Society – failure to have testing performed will mean that heartworm preventative manufacturers will likely not assist in treating your dog’s heartworm condition even if contracted while using their product – if you decline testing this will be noted in the medical record.
    • Testing involves a small blood sample and results are ready in 10 minutes – we check for the presence of both adults and immature life stages.
    • While heartworm prevalence is lower in New York than the deep south, there is always natural pressure for parasites to spread and we do not want New York to become a high prevalent area – hence the need for prevention. In addition, the majority of rescue dogs in Western New York are from southern areas were the disease incidence is high. TRUE CARE VETERINARY HOSPITAL HAS diagnosed and treated canine heartworm disease here in Clarence.
  • While monthly heartworm preventatives help control intestinal parasites, your dog may still contract an infection and an appropriate broad-spectrum deworming agent may be prescribed.
  • Parasite infections, by their nature, can be difficult (or refractory) to treat and the diseases they cause can be mild to severe based on many factors.
  • Please refer to Companion Animal Parasite Council.

Medications used to treat and control parasites can have limitations and can produce side effects in any given dog. You the pet owner and the veterinarian should be aware of any potential treatment problems. Resistance can occur, making it difficult or impossible to treat parasites (refractory disease).

There is a staggering array of pet diets available; if you find a diet which your pet does well on then do not change it. Many diets belong to the BEG category (boutique – exotic ingredient – grain-free). These foods have little formalized testing in dogs and many of the ingredients have unknown nutrient qualities and interactions within any given dog. It may be trial and error in finding a diet that your dog does well on – we can guide you through this process. Buying smaller bags – thus fresher food – is recommended.

  • Puppies can be slowly transitioned to adult dog foods between 9 to 12 months of age.
  • Limit varieties of treats and keep them small or stay with one treat to be sure they tolerate it – then gradually add in different treats one at a time; animal based treats can be contaminated with bacteria such as listeria and salmonella (risky to humans).
  • Use “high value” treats when performing nail trimming or bathing; high value treats include peanut butter (xylitol free), spray cheese, etc.; give them ONLY when your dog is behaving and doing what you want them to do, otherwise you will be rewarding and enforcing bad behavior.
  • Provide clean, fresh water daily.
  • Providing a balanced diet goes a long way towards the health of your dog – know exactly what you are feeding and do not change if the dog is performing well on that diet.
  • Please refer to Pet Food Institute.

When switching diets, purchase a small amount of the new diet and change slowly over 5 days – a little of the new in and a little of the old out – then assess the performance of the new diet over the next two weeks. Some loose stools can occur until your dog’s gastrointestinal tract tolerates the food. Adding a probiotic (such as Proviable DC) can assist in diet transitions. Small, bland meals (such as boiled chicken with rice in equal parts) can be used as short term remedies for sudden episodes of soft stools or diarrhea – but never as long-term feeding options as they are deficient in key nutrients (such as co-enzymes).

Raw diets: we do not recommend feeding your dog raw meat due to the potential for salmonella or listeria infection (both your dog and you), however, some dogs perform well on raw. Flash searing the meat can reduce the incidence of food poisoning. Always exercise good hygiene when handling raw meats and do not cross-contaminate food items. Raw meat should always be a part of a balanced diet.

Homemade diets: we strongly recommend using BalanceIt.com to formulate a balanced diet for the nutritional needs of your, unique dog. This is a paid service and board-certified veterinary nutritionists balance the diet for you. They sell supplements which are a superior way of “finishing” the home prepared diet. We have had great success with some of our clients using this service.

Dogs are very social animals and enjoy the company of people and other animals, though there are some breed specific traits. Knowing your dogs breed (and thus, temperament) is very important (some breeds, such as Chows, while loyal family pets, will often not tolerate other animals or people without extensive socialization and training). Always positively enforce good behavior!

Obedience is essential for all dogs. Obedience gives a dog structure and allows you to control your dog. Basic obedience includes sit and stay commands, as well as enforcing the proper way to walk and behave in a social setting. Dogs who are not taught obedience will often demonstrate improper behaviors at home and (certainly) at the veterinary office. Obedient dogs are usually able to tolerate stress well. Stress comes in various forms and includes riding in cars, going to the veterinary or grooming office or to the dog park.

We recommend you seek local obedience training (unless you are well versed in how to train your dog and the breed you have – not all dogs train the same way!) We can recommend several locations for you. Your dog should be vaccinated and be under strict parasite control before starting socialization and training classes (regardless of the facilities own requirements).

  • Please refer to AKC.

 

A well-trained dog should have the following qualities:

  • Ability to sit and stay on owner command in almost any situation.
  • Ability to have harmful or undesired items removed from their mouths.
  • Properly cope with the veterinary hospital, grooming or social setting.
  • Ability to safely and appropriately walk with their owners or handlers.
  • Should allow owners (and thus the veterinarian) to perform a detailed examination.

 

Canine anxiety is a very real problem for some dogs and can lead to health problems and unacceptable behaviors. There are many reasons dogs may be anxious and, often, dog owners unwittingly contribute to their dogs anxiety (think of taking a frightened child to the dentist and you are also frightened! – there is no reason to fear dentists – they provide important wellness for you and your family and are not there to hurt anyone – neither is the vet, the groomer or the visiting relative or friend). Triggers of anxiety should be identified and removed if possible and basic obedience should be reinforced. Supplements and medications can be used to lower the levels of anxiety and are safe.

 

Dog parks can be a place for your dog to meet new dogs or meet up with friends and run and play. They can also be a random source of problems (such as encountering aggressive dogs, picking up parasites, etc.) Make sure you are following our guidelines to maximize their wellness and prevention and have control of your dog at all times.

  • Dogs are typically social animals.
  • Provide lots of opportunity for your puppy or dog to interact with people and other animals – always supervise introductions until you are certain they are compatible, especially with children.
  • Small children should never be left alone with a dog.
  • Classes can be a great way for your puppy to learn how to interact with other dogs and people – make sure your puppy has had a minimum of two DAPP vaccinations as well as Bordetella vaccination prior to attending; ensure that you are following deworming recommendations as parasites can be spread at puppy classes.
  • Tired dogs are good dogs – dogs should have plenty of exercise opportunity so that they may sleep at night and exercise their muscles and joints; exercise should be controlled in older dogs.
  • Caution is advised with activities involving running and running with jumping – injuries can occur.
  • We do not recommend tug-of-war play unless your dog is trained to readily release a toy from its mouth on command.
  • Exercise should be limited to earlier in the morning and later in the evening during periods of higher heat and humidity; if your dog is in an air-conditioned environment and then goes out into a hot/humid environment, their bodies can suffer stress and heat intolerance; make sure there is access to clean water and shade on hot days both inside and outside; panting is the only way for a dog to stay cool – if the air is very humid they must breathe faster in order to try and evaporate from their tongues.
  • Older dogs should not be allowed to sleep around all day – this leads to soft muscles and stiff joints; dogs laying around all day often stay up all night (“sundowners”); exercise for older dogs should be more frequent but of less duration and intensity; chronic conditions such as muscle and joint pain should be managed – there are numerous options to make them comfortable.
  • Puppies normally “sample” their environment through chewing; provide softer (chewy) toys which they enjoy and which are not easily ingested or that can damage the teeth; if your puppy bites and chews at arms and legs – immediately cease play and place them in a time-out with a chewy toy; children should be trained to not allow puppies to bite at them – tug-of-war games can make play biting worse.
  • Some experts recommend making a loud “yip” sound and pulling your arm or leg away to stop the activity and get their attention – once you have their attention, re-direct to an activity you want them to do and reward them when they behave.
  • It is normal for puppies and dogs to pick up, carry around and chew on objects such as sticks and leaves, etc. usually they learn not to ingest such items though occasionally they do and no harm is caused – watch for a dog getting sick after such activities; for some dogs who have a strong desire to get into trouble with objects, a basket muzzle may be needed to prevent injury or disease – basket muzzles allow them to pant while keeping them safe; providing access to carry around toys outside may also help but you should always seek to train out the behavior (give them a carry around toy or just be closely involved with their activities).
  • If possible, take your dog for a decent walk prior to veterinary visits – this can help them relieve themselves and can help with anxiety.
  • Please refer to Dr. Sophia Yin.

 

Muzzles are often a necessity and can prevent bites in certain circumstances. Choice of a muzzle is key – cage or wire muzzles are best and allow the dog to pant (very important). Muzzles can allow the vet to perform an exam and the groomer to perform their job on dogs who may bite. Muzzles alone are not adequate, however, for all situations. You should be prepared to help control your dog as they are your responsibility.

  • Please refer to AKC.

Schedule an Appointment

From preventative care and counseling to surgery and emergency services, we offer complete veterinary care services for your pet that are flexible and convenient.

Schedule an Appointment

From preventative care and counseling to surgery and emergency services, we offer complete veterinary care services for your pet that are flexible and convenient.

Feline Preventative Care

The following preventive care guidelines are to help you help your cat live a long and healthy life. Cats are often forgotten when it comes to routine veterinary care. They give little sign of illness until it is often advancing or too late. ALL pet cats should be seen at least yearly for a physical examination and weight check. It is essential that you are familiar with your cat’s routine so that you can note any changes – even small changes can indicate there is a problem. Please note that these are only guidelines and are not a comprehensive discussion of the unique preventive and wellness needs of cats. Use us as a resource.

As of time of writing, there is an epidemic within veterinary medicine concerning cats. That epidemic is a lack of routine care for our pet cats – the number one pet in the USA. Dogs typically are taken to the veterinary office at least annually for routine wellness exams and are more likely to be taken in for re-checks of medical problems. Cats are often brought in when it appears that they are sick and, unfortunately, for some cats, that’s too late.

  • During a physical exam, we can listen to any concerns you may have about your cat’s routine at home and whether there may be problems, especially their oral cavity.
  • We will check all the major body systems and assess body and muscle condition scoring.

These are often the first problem noted in cats with illness but are easily missed at home.

  • Cats are predators not couch potatoes.
  • Many cats have a hard time properly digesting the various types of kibble.
  • Some cats do not prefer canned or moist food over dry food.
  • Many cats do not drink enough water.
  • Excess weight in cats places them at high risk for the development of diseases such as diabetes and fatty liver (hepatic lipidosis).
  • Cats are naturally curious animals and require an environment that stimulates them.
  • Cats who do nothing but eat and lay around all day will develop poor health and may become poor groomers – they don’t care.
  • Almost all behaviors demonstrated by cats are predatory (hunt/kill) – these activities can be encouraged through toys and interaction.
  • Cats will become stressed in multi-cat conditions in which subtle inter-cat aggression can occur – these can lead to a variety of disorders and behavioral problems such as inappropriate urination, lower urinary tract disease and issues with food.
  • All cats are legally required to have current rabies vaccination.
  • It is recommended that they also receive their upper respiratory vaccination until they are at least 10 years of age – especially in multiple cat households and for cats that go outside.
  • Cats that regularly go outside should be vaccinated for feline leukemia after testing negative.
  • Once cats have received routine parasite treatments when they are kittens, the need to deworm them depends on their lifestyle or exposure to fleas – cats that spend time outdoors should be dewormed at least twice yearly.
  • Fleas are always a concern, especially for cats that go outside – fleas transmit a variety of diseases to cats and can pass along tapeworms.
  • Cats can acquire ticks, and while not much is known about whether cats get tick disease like dogs, they can bring ticks into the house where people and other pets are exposed.

Paying attention to how your cat eats and how much they drink is important. Equally important is how often they use the litter pan and how consistent the clumps and stools are. Changes in these may signal a significant medical or behavioral issue. Cats should do cat things: perch and observe, groom and have short periods of play with naps. They should be engaged with you and you with them – cats who hide are not doing well at all (they are stressed and will eventually get sick). They should groom and take care of their coats.

There should be one litter pan per cat plus an extra one. If you have one cat then have two pans, or possibly one larger pan. Litter pans should never be in high traffic areas or where there is equipment or machinery that make noise or emit unusual sounds. Litter pans should never be placed near food or water dishes. Cats prefer a secluded, quiet and comfortable area to toilet – if this is not provided, they will find a place that suits their needs but not yours! Stay consistent with the litter type as long as they are using it without issue – initially, this can be trial and error – we all have preferences. Inter-cat aggression can revolve around competition for litter pan availability.

Scoop the litter box TWICE daily – this can make a huge difference. Think about going in to a public restroom and the toilets are not flushed! Follow the guidelines on the litter container – most litters should be kept at about 3-4 inches depth to allow adequate ability for cats to cover things up (some cats do not cover their stools!) Pans should be emptied of all litter weekly and washed clean and dried – try not to use bleach or chemicals which could leave residual odors. Mild soap and water are all that is needed.

As cats age, they may have issues getting into and out of litter pans and may start using the floor – it’s less uncomfortable. For very old cats, an old baking sheet is ideal.

Litter pan covers do not work with every cat. If you use one, we recommend scooping twice daily so that odors do not build up to prevent the cat from wanting to use the pan.

If you decide to try another litter do not switch abruptly. Instead, place another pan near the existing one with the new litter and the cat will let you know if they will use, or even prefer, the new type. Many cats do not like litter that is scented. If anything, adding some baking soda in with the litter can help control odors. Most clumping litters will do a good job of odor control, but nothing beats regular daily scooping.

Veterinary nutritionists recommend feeding for life stages – so kitten food for kittens, senior diets for older cats, etc. Cat food typically has a higher protein and fat level than dog food. Cats will also develop a preference for texture and odor – cats have few taste buds so they more or less smell their food. In general, you can follow the feeding guidelines on the food label and this can be changed based on the cat’s level of activity and body weight score. Feeding guidelines are usually in 8oz cup measuring.

True Care recommends meal times and not free choice feeding. Many cats will eat beyond what they need if the food is left out all of the time. This can lead towards obesity and health problems. Food that sits out more than a few hours can slowly become rancid as the fats start to oxidize. Use stainless steel dishes and do not use dishes that are too high or narrow as some cats do not like whisker contact with the bowl. A shallow bowl or even a ceramic saucer may be better. It may be ideal to slightly elevate the bowl as well, especially in older cats. Fresh water should be available at all times and, ideally, should be running (there are many cat fountains which stimulate cats to drink more than they may from a dish). The water should be topped up during the day and changed completely the next morning. Keep food and water well away from litter pans!

Feed cats’ small meals during the day. Treats are fine in-between but do not overfeed these and they are not a substitute for a balanced diet. Some cats eat too fast (bolt their food) which can lead to vomiting – if this occurs, we have to slow the eating down – use a puzzle feeder, puzzle toy food dispenser, or even just sit with your cat and give a little at a time – quality time! Rapid ingestion of food probably stems from competitive stress in the litter – slow down the eating to avoid vomiting.

Grain-free in cats? Grain free diets are fad diets, even with dogs. Wild cats, like wild dogs, eat a variety of things. As of time of writing there is no evidence of grain-free diets contributing to heart disease (as suggested in dogs).

Many communities in Western New York have large populations of stray or feral cats. These colonies pose both health concerns (especially rabies) and can devastate local wildlife populations.

If you feed and care for a colony, you should work towards getting the adults spayed and neutered. There are numerous local rescue groups such as Feral Cat Focus that may be able to assist you with this HOWEVER, please consider donating as this all costs money and they have to constantly fund raise. True Care can offer guidance on the care of the colony and participates in low cost or feral spay/neuter.

Stray cats, in general, are approachable and you may be able to routine touch them. Feral cats are NOT handleable period and require humane trapping.

  • Lower urinary tract disease – often caused by stress
  • Obesity – boredom or free/excessive feeding
  • Tooth disease – cats get painful mouths and endure this for years
  • Upper respiratory infection – often precipitated by stress
  • Hyperthyroidism – especially in cats 8 and older
  • Diabetes – often over 8 years and obesity is a major factor
  • Vomiting – not just hairballs, inflammatory bowel disease is very common
  • Diarrhea – often due to primary gastrointestinal disease but stress is an influence
  • Anxiety – especially seen with inter-cat issues in the house, or cats roaming the property
  • Fleas – these parasites are relatively easy to prevent/control, they transmit disease

 

As you can see, managing stress and getting your cat in yearly are the first steps in disease prevention – it’s about wellness – we should detect and react to disease early!

Schedule an Appointment

From preventative care and counseling to surgery and emergency services, we offer complete veterinary care services for your pet that are flexible and convenient.

Schedule an Appointment

From preventative care and counseling to surgery and emergency services, we offer complete veterinary care services for your pet that are flexible and convenient.

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