Cats Pet Care Tweet

Emergency Cat Carrier

Working in a vet hospital, you see pets, especially cats, being transported in all different types of containers. At least they are in something. My heart drops every time I see someone walking in just holding their cat in their arms. There is just so much that can happen that could make the cat bolt and our vet hospital is located on a very busy highway and, well, you get the picture…

I personally have several different carriers in my house always at the ready. Most of them are the hard plastic carriers. They seem to multiply in my basement. They aren’t my favorite for transporting cats, I much prefer my soft carrier, but they are great to have in times of emergency.

basket carrierIf you don’t have a carrier, it is very easy to make one if you have an emergency. All you need are 2 laundry baskets that are the same style and size. Place your cat in one of them, take the second basket and turn it upside down over the first (the picture shows 2 miniature baskets). Tie the ends so the cat can’t get out. It’s not pretty, but it works. The main thing is to keep your cat safe and sound.

Health Pet Care Tweet

The summer health hazard no one talks about

Every summer, the media offers hints about taking care of your pet during the summer heat. Very important emphasis is made about heat stroke as well as warnings about lawn chemicals and fleas and ticks. But there is one summer time health hazard I have never heard them talk about. Maybe it is because the thought of it is so gross that people can’t imagine it happens, but working in vet hospitals here in the northeast where summers are very hot and humid, it seems to be the summer hazard we see the most and one that usually doesn’t have a good ending.

Myiasis is the technical name for it; fly strike the common name. Basically, it is the infestation of maggots on an animal. Sometimes the pet is one that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but often it is a well cared for, well loved pet whose owner wasn’t aware this could happen. No one wants to think that it can happen to their pet, but it can very easily.

FlyFlies are attracted to feces or breaks in the skin. Once they find an ideal spot, they lay their eggs on the animal. Depending on the conditions, these eggs can hatch in about 8 to 12 hours. The larvae or maggots start looking for an area to feed. They feed on dead cells and exudate so any area that is cut or abraded would be ideal for them. Once they find an area they feed on the dead tissue, eventually moving on to healthy tissue. If not removed in a short time, the pet becomes ill and the damage the maggots cause becomes unrepairable. Unfortunately, at this point euthanasia is the kindest option.

Not a pleasant picture is it? Unfortunately, I have had to deal with this problem with 3 pets. Charm, my most recent addition, was a stray brought into the emergency vet clinic I was working at. When she was brought in, she had diarrhea and was generally run down. She did not have maggots but had fly eggs all through her coat and even under her one upper eyelid. Luckily, we were able to remove the eggs before any developed.

Bitsa, my orange tabby, was found as a 2 week old kitten 2 years ago in June. She was screaming on someone’s front lawn and when I picked her up, I saw her one front paw was swollen to 3 times its size and the tissue was becoming necrotic. She had very small maggots on the foot. A trip to the vet for antibiotics and washing her feet several times and finally, she was maggot free.

They were both stray kittens when the problem happened, but Geo, my senior dog,is an inside dog and also was affected. His problem happened last summer and is probably typical of what happens with most pet owners. I live a few blocks from a river and last June we had to evacuate because of potential flooding. Luckily, my sister lives nearby and out of the flood plain so we packed up the whole crew and spent the night at her house. As you can imagine, with all my furry family members, it was a chaotic time. That night Geo started acted funny, walking strangely, acting uncomfortable. He has arthritis and we thought he was sore so made him stay on one floor in the house and rest. But when we got to go home the next day, he was still acting that way. When I let the dogs out into the back yard, I decided to check Geo over as he was acting a little more uncomfortable and trying to sit a lot. I was surprised to see maggots. He had a small lump that got rubbed raw and a fly took advantage. Luckily, I was able to wash them off and we had no problems, but it could have turned into a major problem very quickly.

Gross isn’t it? And you can bet I felt like the worse owner in the world, but the truth is, it can happen so quickly and before we even know there is a reason for flies to be attracted. A little bit of diarrhea, a little cut can be enough to start the process.

So what can you do to keep this from happening? Watch your pet for any sores or raw areas. Check for any stool, diarrhea or urine soaked fur. Keep those areas clean. Matted fur can be a problem because it holds moisture close to the skin and can cause a skin infection, so groom your pets regularly. Keep the area around your house clean- trashes covered, poop picked up- to reduce the number of flies. Keep your pet inside. Pets that spend most of their time outside are exposed more to flies. Outside pets are also exposed to bot flies. The maggot form of a bot fly is called a warble and they are ugly! They are huge and can grow to about 1 1/2 inches in length. They truly look like something from a horror film. Rabbits are the usual patients we see with warbles, but dogs and cats can get them also. We removed 3 of them from a kitten a few weeks ago at the emergency vet clinic I worked at. If you do find maggots on your pet, contact your vet. Treatment will depend on the severity.

It’s an ugly subject, but one I feel people need to be made more aware of. For more information, visit the Merck Veterinary Manual.

husky laying in grass

Health Rabbits Tweet

Medicating a Rabbit- Part 2

Well, a few days after finishing the medication, Smudge, my lop ear rabbit began sneezing again (Medicating a Rabbit). So we are going to treat him for a longer period of time. Because of the cost of the liquid Baytril, I decided to go with the pill form.

picture of a rabbit noseOf course, getting the pill into the rabbit was going to take some thought. It would have been nice if he would just eat it, I tried but the Baytril tablets are flavored for dogs and cats, not vegetable eaters. So I thought I would crush the pill and put it into some baby food. This is where I realized I made a mistake with my rabbits.

When I was learning about ferrets, I read that because ferrets imprint on their food, it can be hard to get them to switch to a new food. When a ferret is sick, they often don’t want to eat their regular food and so many people offer a soft food like chicken baby food or make up what is called Duck Soup or Chicken Gravy*. To make sure your ferret will eat this food when it is sick, you have to get them used to it before they are sick.

I never thought of getting my rabbits used to soft food. It didn’t even cross my mind. Even when I bought the baby food, I thought since Smudge loved carrots, he would love carrot baby food. Nope. No interest. I smeared some on his lips, put some on a treat. No thank you, M’am. So I bought some Critical Care from work. This is a nutritional supplement made for herbivores that are sick. It is a powder that you add water to. It’s made ingredient is Timothy Hay, another Smudge favorite, so I thought maybe this would work better. Still a no-go. Arrgghh. I was getting frustrated, especially when I would hear Smudge sneezing.

I decided I had to keep trying. Because Smudge liked his treats, I put the carrot baby food with his medicine mixed into it in the bottom of the bowl and took his treats and stuck them in the baby food. He would have to eat the baby food to eat his treats. He probably thought he had died and gone to heaven as he doesn’t get that many treats in a month. At first he didn’t finish all the baby food, but after a few days he was cleaning the bowl. Hot dog! I decided to add some of the Critical Care to the baby food and see how he did with that mixture rather than all the junk food. That combination turned out to be the best. He loves it. When I go in to give him his medicine he grabs the bowl out of my hand.

It would have been much less stressful if I had gotten him used to eating soft food before all this. This is something i will keep in mind for my next rabbit.

*Duck Soup or Chicken gravy is what ferret people call a homemade mixture that has the consistency of baby food. The original chicken gravy recipe was formulated by Bob Church, but there are many variations. You can find some different recipes at

Money Saving Ideas Pet Care Tweet

Money Saving Tips for Pet Owners

Cat Bank

Everyone wants to save money and pet owners are no different. Let me know if any of these tips are helpful and feel free to share how you have saved money.

First, for those thinking about adding a pet-

  • If you are going to groan about any of the expense, don’t get a pet. Sorry for the bluntness, but pets cost money. They need food, they need medical care. Most of the costs can be planned, sometimes they cannot. Emergencies happen. Pets are a responsibility that cannot be put by the wayside.
  • Research the pet you are interested in. Not just the type of pet (dog, cat, ferret, etc.), but the breed (or breeds if adopting a mixed breed). Large breed dogs require more food. They do require less food per pound, but 5 cups to feed a large breed compared to 1/2 a cup a day to feed a small breed is still more food. They require more medication for preventive care (heartworm medication, etc.) and to treat health problems (antibiotics) so costs will be more. Some surgical costs may be higher. Some breeds require more detailed grooming than other breeds. Are you willing to take this on yourself or will the pet need professional grooming? If neither, get a pet that doesn’t require much grooming. Small pets aren’t always cheaper to care for. Ferrets are often given up because owners are not prepared for the cost. They have specific dietary needs and they are prone to health problems that require surgery and/or ongoing medication. So look into the type of pet you are thinking of adding to your family and decide on what type of pet would best fit your family and budget.
  • Adopt your pet from a shelter or rescue. So many good pets are given up because their owners weren’t prepared. Their loss is your gain. Our local shelter vaccinates and neuters dogs and cats before they go home. The rabbits are also neutered. It costs $95 to adopt a dog and $50 to adopt a cat. It would cost you much more to have a “free” pet vaccinated and neutered . And the life you save is worth more than money.

cat Now tips for those already with pets in the household-

  • Be a smart shopper. Watch for discounts on pet products. I have been able to find some decent, even name brand pet products at Big Lots, a chain discount store in our area. The prices are not bad. I recently saw an automatic litter box for $50 about half of what I have seen them in other retail stores. Check to see if there is a pet supply retailer near you. There is one a half hour away from me that has an outlet store. You may also save money if you pick up an order. The online retailer I worked for gave people wholesale pricing when they picked the order up at our warehouse. If there is a product you are interested in, look for reviews before purchasing to make sure it is worth it. Check on Ebay.
  • Don’t rule out pet insurance. For some people, pet insurance will save them money when an emergency comes up. (To show I am not biased, I will say that I don’t have pet insurance. I work in a vet hospital and am lucky to receive a very generous discount.) The best thing to do is look at the individual insurance policies and do the math. $8 a month may be worth it. For a great series of blog posts on pet insurance, visit invisible voices .
  • Look for vaccine clinics in your area. Our local animal shelter offers rabies (and microchip) clinics several times a year. Local vets donate their time for these events and the rabies vaccines are given at a reduced price.
  • If your community requires a dog license, see if they offer a life-time license. Pennsylvania offers a lifetime license. For neutered dogs, the cost is $31. Compare this to the yearly cost of $6. The lifetime license does require your dog be tattooed or microchipped (an additional cost). Our local shelter has held microchip clinics to encourage people to license their dogs.
  • Don’t feed a food just because it is cheap. Cheap pet food is cheap for a reason. They contain a lot of fillers that don’t provide much nutrition for your pet. This means that you need to feed more food for your pet to get the nutrition they need. It also means that there is more..uh, output. Premium foods use ingredients that your pet is better able to metabolize so you don’t need to feed as much. I like visiting Dogaware to get information on dog foods.
  • Consider a dog training class. A well behaved dog makes life so much easier and can save money in the long run by preventing damage to your house, your dog running away, it could also save you some money on a dog license. In Clallam County, Washington, you can save 10% off the cost of a dog license by you and your dog passing the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.
  • Don’t skimp on healthcare. Visit your vet yearly for your pet’s physical exam, even if you have vaccines done at a vaccine clinic. When you see your pet everyday, it can be easy to miss health problems that appear gradually. Plus it is good to develop a relationship with a vet. If a major problem develops, a vet that you see regularly is more likely to let you make payments high bills than a vet you see every 3 years. This is also a reason not to jump from vet to vet trying to get the cheapest price for different services. Find a vet you are comfortable with and stick with them.
  • Statistics don’t lie. Indoor pets live longer, healthier lives. According to a study done by Humane Society of the United States in 2001, indoor cats lived an average of 15-18 years while cats allowed to go outside lived less than 3 years. Outside cats are exposed to cars, poisons, other animals, diseases such as feline leukemia, panleukopenia and rabies. Dogs that run loose are exposed to many of the same dangers. Working in a vet hospital, I have seen the results of free roaming pets, unfortunately, too often. Often the price paid is your pet’s life.
  • Don’t overfeed. Obesity in pets is almost as common as it is in people and it contributes to many of the same health problems- diabetes, joint problems, heart problems (which cost money to treat). The suggested amount of food on the bag is a guideline. Every pet will require a different amount of calories. Start with that amount and then adjust it up or down as needed. Use an actual measuring cup. I know many people who just grab a glass and call it a cup when it actually holds much more than a cup of food. Go by how your pet looks. A pet is at a good weight when you can place your hands on their ribs and feel their ribs (they should have some padding and not be bone thin). They should also have a waist when you look at them from above. Purina has a great illustration on body condition for dogs and cats.
  • This last tip has worked well for me! Get a job working in the pet industry. I have been lucky to receive some great benefits working at some of my jobs. When I worked for the pet retailer, I was able to buy products at 15% off wholesale pricing (I am almost went into shock when recently I had to buy a product for my ferrets. I got the ferrets after I started working at this job and so got everything below retail. The retail cost at a local pet store was 3 times as much as what I use to pay). At the day vet practice I work at, I recieve my vet care at cost. Not all employers are this generous. At the emergency vet clinic I am working at for the summer, I receive 40% off the services. Well 40% off their services still cost more than if I went to the day practice vet as a regular client as I found out when I brought Charm home and had to pay for an exam, fecal exam and feline leukemia/ FIV test. Before jumping into the pet field though make sure you like both pets and people. The pets are usually the easiest ones to handle!

Health My Pets Rabbits Tweet

Medicating a rabbit

SmudgeSmudge, my lop ear rabbit, had been having sneezing episodes for a few weeks. They didn’t happen every day and he was acting normal otherwise so I didn’t take him in right away. Smudge is a great rabbit, doesn’t get into trouble, but he doesn’t like to be handled. Last Friday I decided to take him into work at the vet hospital for an exam to see if I was missing something. Well, we found he did have tooth that was over-grown (this surprised me as nothing in his routine has changed in the last 4 years I have had him). This was easily taken care of. We also found he had a upper respiratory infection. A common cause of this in rabbits is a bacteria called Pasteurella. If untreated, it can progress causing abscesses through-out the body and ear problems leading to balance issues. It is something rabbits can carry and never show any signs. Stress can bring it out, so I wonder if the overgrown tooth played into this.

After trimming the tooth, I started him on Baytril. There were 2 ways I could treat him- 1 cc twice a day or 10cc added to a liter of water. I was hesitant using the second way because my rabbits don’t drink a lot of water, they get a good supply of fresh vegetables which provide a lot of their water needs. I could reduce the veggies so they drink more, but didn’t really want to play with his diet at this time. So I went with the 1cc twice a day. For a rabbit who doesn’t like to be handled. And stress is not something we want to add at this time. What fun.

For 3 days I had to catch Smudge (my rabbits have their own bedroom to run around in) twice a day to squirt medicine in his mouth. This was not his idea of a good time. I could see him dreading me coming into the room. No longer was I the Veggie Queen, she who brought good stuff to eat. Now I was she who made him take bad tasting liquid. I debated about adding it to the water and seeing how that worked when I decided to try something else first.

I don’t give my rabbits a lot of treats. Their diet is mostly hay and veggies and I usually give them about 2 tablespoons of pellets everyday (they could do without the pellets, but since I live near a river and have had to evacuate when it rises to flood stage, I want to be sure they will eat continue to eat them if this happens). I do have some treats that I got from working at the online pet supply retailer that I hand out occasionally. One package is a hard pellet-like treat made from alfalfa. I squirted a little of the Baytril on it and it soaked in. Hmmm. This looked promising. I offered it to Smudge and he ate it! Yes! This was going to work. And it seems to be. He had no porblems taking the treats like that and right now he is off the medication. I heard some sneezing a few days after starting the Baytril and none since.

There are different things you can try to get medication into your rabbit. The House Rabbit Network has a great article called “Giving Medicine to Your Rabbit”

You can also find an article from the House Rabbit Society called Medicating Your Rabbit

You can find additional information about Pasteurella and