Pet Health

APPOINTMENT

Pets are a wonderful part of our families, and keeping them safe and happy are important to all of us. To help, we’ve gathered several articles on pet health issues that are informative and useful. Please click on the link of the topic you are interested in reading about.

Arthritis

One of the results of the aging process on the joints is arthritis.

Arthritis typically starts with some type of injury to the joint’s cartilage. It may result from trauma, genetic reasons or simply the “wear and tear” of old age. Once the degenerative process has begun, the natural lubrication doesn’t work as well, and enzymes start to “eat away” at the cartilage tissue. Over time, this can lead to pain and reduced mobility for your pet. Arthritis affects one in five dogs in the U.S.

Some of the signs you may see in an animal with arthritis is the favoring of a leg, difficulty sitting or standing, acting stiff after laying down, and hesitation to run, jump or climb stairs. You may also notice a decrease in normal activity and less interest in play as well as attitude or behavior changes.

Fortunately, there are many options now available to help your pet. One option is the use of NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to combat the pain and inflammation of arthritis. There are many drugs available and some pets that do not respond well to one drug may do tremendously well with another type. All drugs have side effects so it is very important to use these medications with the direct supervision of your veterinarian. NEVER use over-the-counter medications without consulting your veterinarian first, as some may be extremely toxic. A second option, which can be used with NSAID’s or sometimes just by themselves, is the administration of neutraceuticals such as glucosamine and PSGAG’S (polysulfated glycosaminoglycans). These products help control pain by breaking the cycle of joint degeneration while improving lubrication and production of new cartilage tissue. They are available in a chewable pill or by injection.

There are important things that pet owners can do at home for their pets that suffer from arthritis. It is VERY IMPORTANT to feed your animal a healthy diet and maintain its proper weight or to begin a weight reduction diet if necessary. Providing a comfortable place to sleep with padded bedding is very beneficial for larger dogs as is a ramp to assist access to vehicles and stairways in the home.

Aging is inevitable, but we can help our pets live longer, healthier, and better quality lives by paying attention to this sometimes subtle disease.

Call Franklin Ranch for an appointment today at (916) 683-4000.

Blood Screening

Even pets that seem lively, wide-eyed, and in the best of health can have hidden medical problems. Left undetected, these problems could grow into serious, even life-threatening conditions. Blood tests are essential tools for identifying diseases at the earliest stage possible, when they are the most treatable.

Blood tests can be used to detect, treat, and prevent potentially dangerous illnesses. Sick or elderly animals often have more than one disease affecting them at the same time, complicating diagnosis and treatment. Blood tests can help pinpoint specific problems. In addition, some medications can be harmful if your pet has certain underlying problems, such as kidney or liver disease. In such cases, your veterinarian may order blood tests to make sure your pet is healthy enough to take the medication. Finally, even in young and healthy pets, laboratory testing helps your veterinarian establish a baseline picture of what represents good health for your individual pet. Blood tests are recommended as part of your pet’s annual physical examination. In this way, your veterinarian can spot health trends sooner, before they become more serious.

Types of Blood Tests

  • Complete Blood Cell Count (CBC)—provides important information about the types and numbers of blood cells in your pet’s blood. A low number of red blood cells, for example, indicates anemia, while a high number of white blood cells can indicate an infection, chronic inflammation, or other disease process.
  • Blood Chemistry Profile—is particularly important for evaluating organ function, electrolytes, blood sugar, or screening for clues that an endocrine disorder may be present. Any abnormalities will help direct your pet’s veterinarian on any further diagnostic tests that may be necessary.

When Blood Tests May be Recommended
Blood tests may be recommended usually before anesthesia is administered, as an essential part of patient evaluation in preparation for a medical procedure or surgery. Blood screening will be performed to test for organ function and to determine if your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. Your veterinarian will decide which tests are most important to run. Blood screening may also be recommended as part of your pet’s annual physical examination—both to spot problems as early as possible and to develop a baseline picture of your pet’s health. If your veterinarian suspects a health problem and needs additional information to make an accurate or complete diagnosis, blood screening may be recommended. If your veterinarian recommends medications for your pet that might be contraindicated if he or she has certain underlying diseases, then blood testing would be performed prior to starting any new medications.

Call Franklin Ranch for an appointment today at (916) 683-4000.

Chocolate Toxicity

It is always important for pet owners to educate themselves on the potential severity of chocolate poisoning, but especially during Halloween and the holiday season. Chocolate, in addition to having a high fat content, contains caffeine and theobromine. These two compounds are nervous system stimulants and can be toxic to dogs. The levels of these two toxins vary in concentration between different types of chocolate, white chocolate having the lowest concentration and baking chocolate having the highest.

Depending on the type of chocolate ingested and the amount eaten, various problems can occur. The high fat content in chocolate may result in vomiting and possibly diarrhea. If toxic levels are ingested, you may notice restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination, excessive panting, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and sometimes even seizures can be observed.

Chocolate toxicity is usually diagnosed by the owner witnessing the animal ingest chocolate. Treatment depends on the severity of the clinical signs and may include continuous intravenous fluid therapy, medications to help control vomiting, and sedatives to counteract the stimulant effects of chocolate. Occasionally medication to reduce heart rate and high blood pressure is indicated.

Most pets treated for chocolate toxicity recover and return to normal within 24-48 hours of treatment. If your dog ingests chocolate, remove your dog from the source and call us at 916-683-4000 immediately. Home care for pets that have ingested toxic levels of chocolate is primarily aimed at reducing gastrointestinal upset and making certain that there is no access to additional chocolate sources. Once nausea and vomiting ceases, a bland diet may be recommended for a couple of days. If your pet is not eating and drinking, continues to vomit, has persistent diarrhea, or still seems hyperactive, consult your veterinarian for additional recommendations.

Call Franklin Ranch for an appointment today at (916) 683-4000.

Common Behavior Problems

Dogs
With dogs, we commonly hear of behavioral issues such as over activity and displays of aggression. Aggression in dogs can be a way to convey a warning of threatening or harmful behavior directed toward another animal or human.

Aggressive behaviors can be identified by snarling, growling, snapping, nipping, biting, or lunging. To address and correct behavioral issues, a combination of behavior modification techniques, drug therapy, surgery, avoidance, and management may be necessary. Each issue of aggression is unique to each particular patient and often no one treatment method is the same for any dog. Depending on the diagnosis and the owner’s capability, motivation, and schedule, some methods may or may not be feasible.

You should have your pet examined by a veterinarian to determine if there is a medical explanation for the dog’s behavior. If it is determined that health issues are not a concern, then seeing a behaviorist or trainer might be the next step. A behaviorist will ask you many questions regarding the dog’s behavior and environment. Keeping a journal to record certain events and behaviors can be useful to give an accurate account of the aggression being displayed.Keep these things in mind: what brings on the aggression, how often does it occur, to whom it is directed, what specific behaviors are exhibited, and the dog’s postures at the time.

Aggression can be a result of numerous factors such as: genetic predisposition, early experience, maturation, sex, age, size, hormonal status, physiological state, and external stimuli. Behavior issues can then fall into one of the various categories: dominance-related aggression, territorial aggression, inter-male aggression, predatory-aggression, fear-induced aggression, maternal aggression, and re-directed aggression.

It is important to keep in mind that even with successful treatment, there is no guarantee that the behavior won’t return. The best hope is to reduce the probability of aggression. Weigh the risks of keeping an aggressive dog against the benefits.If your dog’s behavior cannot be predicted then using a muzzle may be an option, or it may help to keep your dog confined in a separate room when visitors or children are present. Also housing or feeding your dogs separately if they are fighting with each other, or removing objects like bones or rawhides that your dog may be guarding.

Some dogs whether they are one year old or 13 years old, can be constantly hyper and always on the move. Dogs like these often bark excessively, jump on people, tug on the leash, steal food off the counter, and demand attention at all times. Overactive dogs are usually a result of a learned behavior issue rather than a medical issue. There is a medical diagnosis of over activity called hyperkinesis, but it is rare. It is important to know that some breeds are genetically predisposed to be physically active, such as sporting breeds, but this does not mean that this kind of behavior is uncontrollable. It may be a learned condition, since most overactive dogs have learned to be that way because their jumping, barking, running, and tugging have earned them fun or attention from their owners. To address these kinds of problems use combinations of verbal control, physical restraint, and increased exercise. Training that includes rewards can be very effective. Dogs respond well to training when they realize that their efforts are rewarding. To gain more control start by consistently instructing him to “sit”, or “stay” or “down” to earn what he wants such as food, petting, play, or any other kind of attention. Using his leash indoors can be beneficial as well. Dogs that jump, run and leap out of reach can be kept on a leash before any problem actually occurs. All dogs require exercise but some dogs require particularly rigorous exercise such as running, swimming, and extended games of fetch. If the overactive problem seems to be too difficult to change without help, ask your veterinarian for assistance or look into a behavior specialist.

Cats
Often cats can cause problems for their owners with inappropriate elimination and furniture scratching.With some investigation and behavior modification techniques there is help for these problems.

Inappropriate elimination can be due to several factors such as medical problems, physiological problems, elimination preferences, or anxiety and stress.Some reasons that your cat may stop using the litter box all of a sudden may be a dirty litter box, placement of the box, litter changes, and box issues. Cats by nature are very clean animals and if the litter box smells bad to you, then it smells bad to your cat. Cats have 200 million odor-sensitive cells in their noses compared to our 5 million.Part of the reason cats are so particular about this is basic animal instinct. In the wild, predators hunt by scent, and in an attempt at preservation, cats try to “cover their tracks”. A dirty litter box can make a cat feel susceptible to predators.

Clean the box often and scoop out the soiled litter and solid wastes daily and scrub the box with warm soapy water weekly, if you are using clay litter. Do not use harsh cleaners such as bleach to clean the box because their odor can be picked up by your cat and discourage them from using the box. Also, clumping litter can help make the box easier to clean.

Location of the box is very important as well.If your cat does not like the location, he may not use it at all. Do not place the litter box too close to his water and food dishes. Most cats do not like to eat and eliminate in the same area. Make sure the box is easily accessible. For example, placing it in a remote area of the house may deter the cat from using it. Keep the litter box away from the noisy water heater, the washer and dryer, or a dominant cat’s territory. Cats like safe, quiet places to eliminate.Follow your cat and observe what’s going on.Try several locations until you find one he will use consistently.

If you have changed the brand of litter, and the problem occurs, try changing back. The cat may not like the smell or texture of the new litter. Experiment with several types to see what he likes best. Purchase a small amounts of each, testing between clumping and non-clumping (try to use the unscented versions), recycled paper, wood byproducts, plant-based material, etc.

If you bring in a cat that is normally outdoors, he will not be used to using litter. You might first try using dirt or sand or whatever he’s been using in the yard. As he starts to use the box, very gradually over the next couple of weeks, mix the dirt with increasing amounts of litter.

The size, shape, and depth of the litter box can also affect your cat’s behavior. Hooded litter boxes are suitable for some cats, however others can feel confined and trapped. This can also be a problem in multiple cat households, as it can become a dominance dispute. Older cats, or cats with health problems, may have trouble stepping into a box with high sides. If a cat’s movement is an issue, provide a ramp that allows them to step down inside. Some cats don’t like box liners. Remove the liner if you notice your cat pulling it up or leaving claw marks in plastic. Providing several types of boxes of different sizes and type may help resolve the litter box problem.

If your cat seems to be straining to urinate or you notice any abnormalities in the ability to eliminate, the amount, the consistency, or blood in the urine or stool, see your veterinarian. Inappropriate elimination can be a result of a urinary tract infection or other medical issues as well.

Cats are great pets, but they are scratchers by nature, particularly targeting furniture or stereo speakers. A cat’s scratching is not random, and there are reasons for their scratching. In the wild, cats scratch around their immediate environment to signal their presence to other cats and to claim their area. Through scratching, a cat leaves a physical mark as well as a release of pheromones. Cats secrete pheromones from superficial glands in the skin of the cat’s paws. Scratching also helps your cat to achieve a form of physical therapy for the muscles and tendons and helps to remove old nail husks. If you experience problems with your cat scratching furniture, provide scratching posts. Allow enough height on a scratching post for a cat to stretch and use a fabric that allows the scratch marks to be visible. Most cats respond to burlap, wood, or carpet. Choose an attractive location for the post, because your cat wants it to be seen. Adjust the cat to the post first, and then relocate it later.

To protect a particular piece of furniture from scratching, place a heavy plastic over it, which can help deter the cat from scratching it. You can try using repellant aerosols, which contain napthol, however the area has to be sprayed periodically as the odor will fade. Another product on the market to help alleviate scratching is called Soft Paws, which are plastic covers glued over a cat’s nails. The covers need to be replaced each month as the nail grows, but damage to furniture is prevented. Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed can help with scratching as well.

If you are experiencing any behavioral issues with your cat or dog, be sure to consult your veterinarian to determine a regime that’s best to correct the behavior and to rule out any health concerns.

Call Franklin Ranch for an appointment today at (916) 683-4000.

Flea & Tick Control

Fleas and ticks are virtually everywhere. Although they’re a bigger problem in certain parts of the country and at specific times during the year, no cat or dog is completely safe from them. Fortunately, many safe and highly effective products are available. Today, there’s no reason for any pet or owner to be bothered by these pests.

Fleas are so common because they are reproductive marvels. A single female flea can lay as many as 30 eggs a day and can live and breed on your pet for up to 100 days. The eggs then fall and land in carpets and upholstery, where they can lie dormant for up to 8 months. The best management techniques for flea-proofing your home includes regularly vacuuming carpets, furniture, floors, and areas where your pet sits or sleeps. You should also wash your pet’s bedding, toys, and towels weekly.

Beyond causing serious discomfort, fleas and ticks can carry diseases dangerous to both you and your pet. Fleas can carry tapeworm larvae, which your pet can ingest. In cats, in particular, fleas can carry an organism called Bartonella henselae, which is one of the causes of cat-scratch disease in humans. Ticks can transmit such serious diseases as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to both you and your pet. Many pets are also so allergic to fleabites that a single bite can cause an intense allergic reaction. When the skin is irritated or inflamed, it can become infected with bacteria or other pathogens, making the problem worse. Ticks can be a particular problem when present in large numbers, or when they attach to sensitive places, like inside the ear or near an eye.

There are numerous signs that indicate that your pet may have fleas. If your pet scratches occasionally or constantly it may be a sign of fleas. Redness or oozing lesions on the skin can be signs of flea allergy dermatitis, a condition caused by fleas. Tiny black dots on your pet might be an indication of flea dirt, or flea feces, an obvious indication that there are fleas present on the pet. Even small bites on yourself, especially around the ankles, might be flea bites.

The good news is that all of these problems can be avoided using the parasite preventatives available on the market today. Due to the mild winters in our area, there is really never a dormant time for fleas. Therefore, year-round flea prevention is recommended to avoid a flea infestation situation.

Call Franklin Ranch for today at (916) 683-4000 to discuss flea and tick control for your pet.

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is transmitted to pets via mosquitoes. These worms develop and lodge in an infected pet’s heart and pulmonary artery, where they cause illness and even death. It is important to realize that even though heartworms are more common in dogs, they are even more deadly to cats. The good news is that the disease is 100% preventable. There are safe, effective and easy-to-administer heartworm preventatives that actually offer protection against other parasites as well. All pets need protection, as infestations have been reported in all 50 states and the number of incidences increase each year.

In dogs, the worms live in the heart and large blood vessels around the heart and lungs, where they damage tissues and lead to heart failure and pulmonary disease. In some cases, the worms can obstruct other large blood vessels, leading to liver failure and kidney disease. In cats, the worms are found in the heart, lungs, or pulmonary arteries. While cats are less susceptible to heartworm infection than dogs, their body’s reaction to the worms can be more intense. Feline patients can become severely ill or even die suddenly from just one or two worms.

Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito carrying the microscopic heartworm larvae. Mosquitoes become carriers by biting an already infected animal and then subsequently biting other healthy ones. As a result, heartworm disease is a problem virtually everywhere there are mosquitoes. As you know mosquitoes easily get indoors, so all animals regardless of their age, size or breed are at risk.

Prevention
A simple blood test can detect whether or not your pet has been exposed to heartworm infection. This test is necessary to ensure that your pet is free of disease prior to beginning any preventative medications. Although these medications are completely safe when given to a disease-free animal, several complications could arise if given to an infected animal. The heartworm preventatives offered are simple, easy to administer monthly doses that not only protect your animal from heartworm disease, but other parasites as well.

Treatment
Even though heartworm disease is treatable, it is costly and can produce several side effects. For these reasons, prevention is a better approach to the disease. Unfortunately, in cats the disease is much more complicated to treat because the side effects, such as blood clots and fluid in the lungs, are much more serious. Therefore, instead of treatment, supportive care such as steroids and oxygen therapy, is offered to help your cat cope with the disease.

Signs
In some dogs and cats with heartworm infection, there may be no clinical abnormalities whatsoever. This is why periodic screening is so important. Many cats that die suddenly from heartworm disease have been seemingly healthy up until the time of death. It is also important to realize that these symptoms are not specific to the disease and can be signs of other illnesses.

In dogs signs include:

  • Deep chest cough
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Abdominal distension or bloating
  • Labored respiration
  • Weight loss

In cats signs include:

  • Coughing or gagging
  • Breathing problems
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Sudden death

Call Franklin Ranch today at (916) 683-4000 to discussion heartworm prevention for your pet.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a condition arising from extremely high body temperature (rectal temperature of 105 to 110 degrees F), which leads to nervous system abnormalities such as lethargy, weakness, collapse, or coma. Abnormally high body temperature develops after increased muscular activity with impaired ability to give off heat due to high heat and humidity or respiratory obstruction. Allowing a dog to remain in a car with closed windows on a hot summer day is probably the most common cause of heat stroke.

Normal dogs dissipate heat from their skin. In addition, panting allows evaporation of water from the respiratory tract and is an effective method of heat dissipation. When these mechanisms are overwhelmed, hyperthermia and heat stroke usually develop. At temperatures greater than 109 F, failure of vital organs, and consequently death, can occur.

Heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps can occur after exposure to extremely high environmental temperatures. These illnesses occur in all mammals and can be prevented by taking proper precautions.

Animals at greatest risk for heat-related illness include:

  • Puppies up to 6 months of age
  • Overweight dogs
  • Dogs that are overexerted during exercise
  • Dogs that are ill or receiving certain medications
  • Dogs with short, wide heads like pugs, English bulldogs and Boston terriers
  • Dogs with airway obstructive diseases
  • Dogs with pre-existing fever
  • Dogs that are dehydrated
  • Dogs with heart disease
  • Dogs with poor circulation due to cardiovascular or other underlying disease
  • Older pets

What to watch for:

  • Noisy breathing that may indicate upper airway obstruction
  • Excessive panting
  • Bright red mucous membranes (gums, conjunctiva of the eyes)
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Coma

Diagnostic tests are needed to diagnose heat stroke and assess the extent of vital organ dysfunction, including:

  • A complete medical history and thorough physical examination, including rectal temperature.
  • A complete blood count (CBC) to assess the severity of dehydration and cardiovascular stress.
  • Coagulation tests to determine if there is a failure in blood clotting that is often a complication of heat stroke.
  • Blood tests to check blood glucose concentration, assess the extent of damage to vital organs, such as muscles, kidneys and liver to evaluate the electrolyte and acid base status.

The treatment of heat stroke depends upon the severity of the illness. Animals with temperatures less than 105 F may only require rest, fresh water, and careful observation. Temperatures of 105 to 107 should be hospitalized on intravenous fluids. Temperatures over 107 must be treated more aggressively and cooling can be promoted externally by immersion in cool water or internally by administering a cool water enema. Additional treatments may be needed if secondary complications arise such as: liver failure, kidney failure, muscle breakdown, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, convulsions, and secondary infections.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency, but there are several things you can do to prevent heat related problems for your dog. Monitor outdoor temperatures and minimize your dog’s activity on hot, humid days. NEVER leave your dog in a car, even with the windows partially rolled down, for any reason at any time.Leaving dogs in a car during warm weather is the most common cause of heat stroke. Provide your dog with plenty of fresh water and plenty of shade.

Spaying & Neutering

Spaying and neutering is a part of responsible pet ownership and will contribute to the long-term health and quality of life of your pet. They are surgical procedures that make pets unable to reproduce. Spaying and neutering is one of the best decisions you can make for your pet’s health, as well as for the well-being of animals in the community.

There are several benefits to spaying and neutering. Research shows that altered pets live longer and are less likely to contract cancer, infections, and other health problems. Another benefit is decreased incidences of behavioral issues. Spaying and neutering can lessen unwanted behaviors, such as roaming, spraying, inappropriate elimination, or mounting. You’ll also be doing your part to help reduce the numbers of unwanted puppies and kittens that are placed in animal shelters each year.

Spaying
Spaying, also called an ovariohysterectomy, is a surgical procedure in which both ovaries and the uterus are completely removed from your pet. This procedure is a surgery performed while your pet is under anesthesia. Removing the reproductive organs of female pets before the first heat cycle (around 6 months) reduces the chance of breast cancer by 95%. Since this benefit decreases each time your pet comes into heat, it is best to have your pet spayed early in her life. Spaying also eliminates the possibility of uterine infection, which can be fatal, as well as ovarian or uterine cancer.

Neutering
Also called a castration, neutering involves the removal of both testicles from your pet. It is a minor procedure that is completed while your pet is under anesthesia. Removing the testicles helps prevent certain infectious diseases as well as enlargement of the prostate gland, an age-related problem that can make urination painful or difficult. Neutering also eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer.

Spaying and neutering is a part of responsible pet ownership and will contribute to the long-term health and quality of life of your pet.

Call Franklin Ranch today at (916) 683-4000 to make an appointment to spay or neuter your pet.

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Elk Grove, CA 95757
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