Friday, November 27, 2015

Pet Tips for Winter

Winter in Wisconsin has arrived and we need to take extra steps to keep our pets safe, comfortable, and healthy through the cold and snowy months ahead.

Pets’ cold tolerance can vary based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You may need to shorten your dog’s walks to protect him from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and be prone to slipping and falling. If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat.

Paw protection: Keep the hair between the toes clipped to reduce buildup of snow and ice. Massage petroleum jelly or other paw protectants such as Musher’s Paw Care into pads to protect them from chemicals and sand. Proper fitting booties are another good idea to protect the paws. If your pet becomes suddenly lame, pick the paw up and look for an accumulation of ice or snow between toes or a laceration from sharp ice. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals.  Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather damage, such as dry, cracked or bleeding pads. Consider using pet-friendly deicing agent on your driveway and walkways.

Another winter hazard is antifreeze. It can be deadly even in small amounts. Keep antifreeze containers tightly closed and stored in areas your pet cannot access. Dispose of used antifreeze containers properly. Check your vehicle’s radiator regularly, and repair leaks. If antifreeze is spilled or leaked, clean it up immediately and thoroughly. If you believe your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact a veterinarian immediately. Some common signs of antifreeze poisoning in dogs and cats include:
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Nausea/Vomiting/Diarrhea
  • Drunken behavior/ Wobbly, uncoordinated movement
  • Excessive urination
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Seizures/Coma

Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be housed inside. If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, get them inside quickly because these can be signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other colder-climate dogs, are more tolerant of cold weather, but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.

If you absolutely cannot keep your pet inside during cold weather, provide them with a warm, solid, shelter against wind. Make sure they have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water (by changing the water frequently and using a pet-safe, heated water bowl). The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground (to minimize heat loss into the ground) and bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment. The door to the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Space heaters and heat lamps should be avoided because of the risk of burns or fire. Use heated pet mats with caution because they are capable of causing burns.

Lastly, a warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor cats and other animals, but it can be deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage at-risk animals to move along. Not only can you save a life with these simple gestures; you can also avoid damage to your vehicle.

With a little extra care and attention, pets can safely enjoy our Wisconsin winters. You and your veterinarian, together, can help make this happen.

For new clients - mention this article and receive a free housecall. You can contact Dr. Karen Bryant at To Your Door Veterinary Health and Wellness (phone) 608-335-5777, (email) DrBryant@ToYourDoorVet, or web address

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pet obesity: What you need to know, and some helpful tips

“He’s not fat; he’s just fluffy!”

Most pet owners believe that their cat or dog is a normal weight, even in cases of obesity.  Identifying pet obesity is difficult for the majority of people.  The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s (APOP) eighth annual National Pet Obesity Prevalence Survey found that “58% of U.S. cats and 53% of dogs were overweight in 2014.”  Further, the survey showed that “90% of owners of overweight cats and 95% of owners of overweight dogs incorrectly identified their pet as normal weight.”  Recognizing the extra weight and acknowledging the problem is the first step to tackling the issue.

Veterinarians and other animal professionals refer to a Body Condition Score in assessing pets’ weights.  The scoring system usually ranges from 1 to 5, with 1 being underweight, 3 being ideal, and 5 being obese.  Pets in the ideal weight range will have ribs and spine that are easily felt but not necessarily seen.  There is a waist when viewed from above, and the abdomen is raised and not sagging when viewed from the side.  Pets who are overweight or obese have ribs and spines that are hard to feel or count underneath fat deposits.  The waist can be distended or even nonexistent when viewed from above.  Fat deposits are typically found on the hips, base of tail, chest, and hindquarters.

When you ultimately identify your pet as obese, you may wonder what the “big deal” is.  After all, a chubby pet is a happy pet, isn’t it?  The problem is that, like humans, pets who are obese are at much higher risk for serious health issues.  APOP identifies the following as primary risks of excess weight in pets:

-Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
-Heart and Respiratory Disease
-Hepatic Lipidosis (“Fatty Liver Disease”)
-Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury (ACL knee injury)
-Kidney Disease
-Many Forms of Cancer
-Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

Once you realize the seriousness of this problem and want to make changes, what can you do?

You can make changes and enhancements to help your overweight pet.  Try using healthy vegetables or fruits as a treat. Experiment with a wide variety such as carrots, bananas, or broccoli. Even hand-feeding low calorie kibble can be a treat.   Kibble becomes “special” when it is hand-fed.  Also, playing, petting, grooming, and praising is a great substitute for food treats.  These activities will increase the bond with your pet, as interaction is key to success.  

Make treats or meals more challenging.  There are products on the market that require involvement, reasoning and movement with treats or kibble as a reward.  These products require a pet to move, flip, or tug at a toy in order to get the food from within.  While there are a many on the market, some brand names to help in your search are:  the Buster Food Cube, the Tug-a-Jug, and the SmartyKat KnockOut treat toy.

Make gradual changes and get your veterinarian involved.  The first step is to determine the number of calories your pet eats in a day. To find the calorie content, look on the bag or can, check out the manufacturer’s web site, or call their toll free phone number.   Next measure the amount that you are feeding.  Pet owners are often surprised by how much is really in that “scoop” of food!  Also, do not forget to count treats.

Once armed with the current number of calories being consumed, the second step is a visit with your veterinarian. He/she will work with you to determine your pet’s ideal body weight and number of calories needed to achieve that goal.  Your veterinarian will help with alternative food suggestions, feeding schedules, challenges in multi pet households, and other strategies for success.  Follow up with monthly weight checks to see if your strategies are working or if your plan needs to be revised.  

As with humans, to lose weight, pets must burn more calories than they take in.  You can help your pet with added exercise, such as walks for dogs or toys that inspire the desire for chasing in cats.  The time spent together with your pets will not only help with their weight and health.  It will increase the bond you have with them and will add quality to the years yet to come.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Summer Travel: Pet Care Planning

Summer is a busy time of year for travel and vacations. If your beloved family pet is staying home while you travel, a little advanced planning can give you peace of mind to enjoy your time away.

Some people rely on neighbors and friends for their pet care.  Others may choose to use a boarding facility.  While these options may work for some, others may want to hire a pet sitter.  

Find a pet sitter

Ask friends, neighbors and veterinarians for recommendations well in advance of your trip.  You can also check for online reviews.  Remember that many others travel during this peak season, and many pet sitters can book up quickly, so planning ahead is crucial.

Here are a few considerations as you contemplate your choices:

  • A pet sitter should provide references and you should check those references.
  • Many professional pet sitters are insured and bonded.
  • A pet sitter should be comfortable providing all the care that is necessary and be able and willing to follow specific instructions.  
  • Some pet sitters can provide more extensive care and services, such as administering medications, basic grooming, and nail trimming.
Schedule a home interview

Once you've contacted a pet sitter who seems to match up with your pet's particular needs, invite that person to your home for an interview. This gives the potential sitter a chance to interact with your pet, and it gives you the opportunity to gauge how comfortable you and your animal feel with that person.  Make sure to closely observe your pet’s reactions, and trust your instincts.  You must feel trust for the individual who will be in your home and caring for your pet.

The home visit also gives pet owners a chance to familiarize the sitter with the house, the locations of supplies, and areas the pet frequents or is not allowed to roam.
At the interview, you should establish how often the sitter will visit, whether he or she will stay in your home, and what backup plans are in place in the event that the sitter is not able to care for your pet.

When you decide to hire a sitter, confirm an agreed-upon price for the services to be rendered. You should also go over your expectations in the event of a medical emergency. Is the sitter willing and able to transport your pet to the local emergency room or to your veterinarian? Some people leave a signed letter, giving their vet or the ER permission to treat if you cannot be reached and may leave a credit card on file with the clinic so that payment is not a barrier to needed treatment.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
* * * Pet Sitter Check List * * * 

__ Emergency Contact Information (how to reach you while away)
__ Name and contact information for regular veterinarian
__ Name and contact information for closest pet emergency facility
__ Name and contact information for local friend/family member
__ Food & treats – dishes, schedule, and amounts
__ Water
__ Exercise activities
__ Favorite toys and games
__ Medication and notes about medical conditions
__ Spare key or code
__ Areas off-limits to pet
__ Photo (in case pet gets lost)
__ Pet carrier/leash/harness
__ Cleaning supplies/shampoos/wipes (in case accidents occur)
__ Additional expectations

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lovely Lilies and Curious Cats: A Dangerous Combination
It is important to remember that while lilies are lovely to see and smell, they are a serious safety threat for our cats. The entire lily plant (leaf, pollen, and flower) is considered to be toxic for cats, and it only takes a smidgen to be deadly.
Every year, especially around Easter, many cats become critically ill, end up with kidney failure and some die due to Lilly ingestion. Symptoms of lily toxicity in cats include lethargy (decreased activity), vomiting, and loss of appetite. These symptoms worsen as kidney damage progresses, leading to death.  Early veterinary treatment is critical.  If you suspect that your cat has eaten any part of a lily or its pollen, call your veterinarian immediately.
Holidays are times to celebrate with friends and family.  Your feline friends want to celebrate with you. Please do your part to “cat-proof” your home in order to keep them safe this holiday season, and spread the word about the dangers of this common plant.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

National Dental Health Month

We at To Your Door Vet just about missed National Pet Dental Health month due to a dental health emergency for yours truly, Karen Bryant DVM.

From this, I've learned to never, ever ignore dental, facial, or jaw pain. I will spare you the gory details, but the end result was a four-day hospitalization, unbelievable pain, and two weeks of missed work!

Of course, our pets can’t tell us if they are in pain. And, because of their innate survival instincts, they tend to hide pain.

Actions you can take to evaluate your pet’s dental health include:
  • Take a whiff…open their mouth and smell!
  • Lift a lip… look for areas of red gums or heavy tartar.
  • Regular wellness exams…Your vet will look for evidence of gum recession, infection and sensitivity.
A startling statistic is that most pets have some form of dental disease by the age of three. If you think about it, that statistic is not so surprising for critters who do not brush their teeth or have semi-annual professional cleanings as humans do. Our pets are living longer these days due to better health care, so a healthy mouth is important as well.

"That tooth must have been bothering Iris much more than I knew...she is like a different cat now! She is more playful and sociable and is eating better."
-Mary, Mt. Horeb

TYD will offer free house-call dental evaluation AND a 10 % discount on all dental services through April 30, 2015. Schedule today! 

Karen Bryant, DVM
To Your Door Veterinary Health and Wellness


P.S. Don't forget we now have online scheduling...go to our website,, and click the "Schedule Now" button.