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The day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year…for pancreatitis-related vet visits. It’s not the chocolate or the alcohol – it’s human food. Pets are often spoiled on holidays with a sudden surge of high-fat human food including table scraps, treats, leftover meat scrapings, and food fallen onto the floor. Here’s a list of the foods you should avoid giving to your pets this Thanksgiving to keep them out of the emergency room:
  1. Fatty Foods

Fatty foods aren’t toxic to animals, but they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, and in worse cases, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or GI issues. Symptoms may take a few days to present themselves. Some dog breeds are more susceptible to pancreatitis including Miniature Schnauzers, Miniature Poodles, and Cocker Spaniels. Fatty Thanksgiving foods to avoid sharing include:
  1. Stuffing

Speaking of fatty foods, stuffing is also high on the “no” list for pets. Not only is it high in fat, but it can also contain multiple ingredients which are toxic to animals: onions, garlic, chives, and pepper. Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate which can cause hemolytic anemia (damage to red blood cells) in pets. For this reason, other foods using onions such as gravy, basted turkey skin, and casseroles shouldn’t be given to dogs or cats either.
  1. Turkey Brine

If you have jumped on the recent trendScreen Shot 2018-11-15 at 2.32.24 PM of brining your turkey before cooking it, the turkey comes out of the oven with a salt-saturated solution that smells scrumptious to cats and dogs (and humans). This high sodium content can cause salt poisoning in pets. More information on salt poisoning is available here.
  1. Pumpkin Pie

Though plain canned pumpkin can be a healthful treat for pets, sugar-filled pumpkin pie filling is not. Additionally, nutmeg contains a toxin called myristicin, which can cause stomach upset in pets and in large amounts can cause additional severe symptoms.
  1. Discarded Foods

Keep your trash inaccessible and sealed tight – even the best behaved pet can be lured into bad trash etiquette around Thanksgiving. Also keep an eye on the table and counter tops piled high with food and scraps, because you know they are. If your pet grabs a discarded corn cob, turkey trussing, or turkey bone, they are likely to swallow it whole as quick as they can, this can cause a risk for choking, obstruction or a GI injury. If a corn cob or bone gets stuck, or causes internal damage, a surgical or endoscopic removal may be the only option to prevent further damage.
  1. Dark Chocolate Desserts

Most pet owners know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but did you know it only takes a very small amount of Bakers chocolate or cocoa powder to cause severe toxicity? If you’re baking sweet treats, keep the baking chocolate (or your pet) far, far away. If family members are bringing dark chocolate cakes, brownies, cookies, fudge, dipped fruit, or pies, make sure that pieces aren’t getting accidentally dropped on the floor and quickly gobbled up by your dog. It only takes a few ounces of dark chocolate to cause toxicity, and even less for baking chocolate. To calculate your dog’s toxicity, you can use this toxicity meter.
  1. Nuts & Raisins

Nuts, found in many Thanksgiving pies, breads, and platters, are another fatty food that poses a risk of pancreatitis in dogs. Macadamia nuts are more serious, as ingestions can result in more dangerous consequences. Raisins, often found in pie, stuffing, casseroles, and salads, can cause acute (sudden) renal failure in some dogs as well.  

Symptoms to watch out for post-Thanksgiving:

  If you are worried about your dog or cat finding a plate of food, eating fallen scraps off the floor, or family members who are too generous in sharing their dinner, keep your pet confined in a separate room or boarded in a kennel over the holiday. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you think your pet has eaten something, or if they present any of the above symptoms over the holiday, bring them to the nearest ER. Time counts in these situations. Though you may want to try to investigate or monitor them before rushing to the car, remember toxicity can happen quickly and severely in pets.  

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My veterinarian recommended an MRI for my pet. Now what?
Many of us have either had or know somebody that has had a CT (“CAT” scan) or an MRI at some point in their life. As in human medicine, advances in imaging have significantly increased our ability to quickly and safely diagnose the cause of a variety of illnesses in companion animals. Many veterinary hospitals now have digital X-rays and ultrasound, and an increasing number of specialty and emergency veterinary hospitals have in-house computed tomography (CT) and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). If your pet needs to have an MRI, your primary care veterinarian will likely refer you to a local veterinary neurologist or radiologist for evaluation and subsequent imaging if indicated.

Why Does My Pet Need an MRI?

In neurology, the clinical signs (“symptoms”) exhibited by a pet depend on where the disease is located rather than what disease process is present. In other words, a brain tumor, stroke, or infection in the same area of the brain cause very similar clinical signs so we cannot determine the cause of your pet’s illness on exam alone. As a result, advanced imaging is required in most cases. With MRI and other sophisticated tests at our disposal, we are increasingly able to quickly and safely provide a more accurate diagnosis of your pet’s illness, in turn allowing us to more accurately treat and provide an improved quality-of-life for your furry loved ones.

What is an MRI?

[caption id="attachment_11255" align="alignright" width="197"]MRI Brain MRI of the brain obtained from a cat that was compulsively walking in circles because of a large meningioma (arrow), a type of brain tumor arising from the membranes surrounding the brain. The cat returned to normal after surgical removal and is still doing normal four years later.[/caption] MRI provides amazing clarity of the body’s tissues. MRI is the imaging tool most often recommended by veterinary neurologists and radiologists to evaluate the nervous system and sometimes the musculoskeletal system. In contrast to CT, which is better for bone evaluation, MRI is significantly better at imaging soft tissues, such as the brain, spinal cord, intervertebral discs, tendons and ligaments, and muscles. Very small abnormalities, down to about 1-2 mm in size, can be detected with MRI that are otherwise missed on CT and other imaging techniques. MRI also allows us to obtain images from all three planes of the body, left-to-right, front-to-back, and top-to-bottom without having to move the patient. This gives us the ability to view the body three-dimensionally. Take a look inside a veterinary MRI.

Is an MRI Safe for My Pet?

Unlike CAT scans, which involve taking many X-ray slices through the body, there is no radiation in MRI, so it is incredibly safe. MRI uses a powerful magnet to align the protons in the hydrogen of water molecules of the body in the same direction as the magnetic field. The computer then delivers a brief radiofrequency (RF) pulse that knocks the protons out of alignment. After the RF pulse ends, the protons return to alignment with the magnet, giving off energy that is detected by a receiver (“coil”) placed on or around the patient. This signal is then processed by a computer to provide a detailed image of the body.

Is My Pet Awake During an MRI?

MRI for animals is the same as for people, but unfortunately, our pets will not lie still. Any movement blurs the images so we cannot evaluate the pictures. As a result, dogs, cats, and other animals must be placed under general anesthesia for the MRI. While this can be scary to consider, anesthesia risks are usually very low, and the vast majority of our pets do great under anesthesia. To help ensure this, we collect blood samples before anesthesia to evaluate the red and white blood cell counts, liver and kidney function, and electrolyte levels. This allows us to screen for underlying systemic diseases that might increase the risk of anesthesia. Chest X-rays are taken in older pets to screen for evidence of cancer spread to the lungs, pneumonia, or lung/heart conditions that may alter the decision to proceed with MRI. [caption id="attachment_11258" align="aligncenter" width="408"]Herniated Disc MRI of the neck (head is to the left) from a dog with severe neck pain and moderate weakness & incoordination in all four legs. There is an intervertebral disc extrusion ("slipped disc", "ruptured disc") between the 2nd and 3rd neck pain causing spinal cord compression. The dog returned to normal following surgery to remove the ruptured disc material.[/caption]

How Long Does it Take?

Once safely under anesthesia, the procedure usually takes between 45 minutes and 2 hours to complete depending on the region of the body being scanned. During this time, your pet is closely monitored by a veterinary technician. Since your pet is under anesthesia for the procedure, we have to focus our scan on the region of interest for patient safety, which is why “whole body” MRI is not usually performed in veterinary medicine. Once the images are obtained, they are evaluated by a neurologist or radiologist, often providing results to the client the same day.
  troxelmDr. Troxel is a board-certified veterinary neurologist at Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital in Woburn, MA. He obtained his veterinary degree from Iowa State University in 1999. Following this, he completed a general rotating internship at VCA South Shore Animal Hospital and an internal medicine specialty internship at Garden State Veterinary Specialists. He then completed a medical neurology and neurosurgery residency at the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 2004. He has been at Mass Vet since 2005. He became board-certified in 2004 and obtained a neurosurgery certificate of training.    

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What is Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)?27540480_1859199224092300_7768075662299150635_n

Minimally invasive surgery refers to surgical procedures that are performed through one or multiple small incisions instead of one large incision via the use of specialized instrumentation, cameras, and video displays. The benefits of MIS are numerous and include reduced postoperative pain, preservation of patient immune status, and faster recovery. MIS has proven to have tremendous diagnostic and therapeutic value when it comes to evaluating and treating disease in the thoracic cavity (thoracoscopy), abdominal cavity (laparoscopy), and joints (arthroscopy) of companion animals.

The following minimally invasive surgical procedures are offered at Capital District:

Laparoscopic or laparoscopic-assisted procedures:   Arthroscopic procedures:  For more information on these procedures, or any surgical questions you may have, you can connect with us or your family veterinarian. Here at Capital District Veterinary Referral Hospital, we work together with your family veterinarian to find the best medical treatment plans for both you and your pet. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!  

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Welcome to the first entry of our exotic pet series written by our exotics specialist at Bulger, Mike Corcoran!
Dr. Corcoran will be writing about all things exotic pets: interesting cases, pet care, opinions, and more! From reptiles to birds to amphibians to pocket pets to fish, there's plenty of species to go around!

What is it like to be an Exotics Vet?

[caption id="attachment_11203" align="alignright" width="178"]42084545_1982736278457766_7183490685557800960_o Dr. Corcoran performing an oral exam on a rabbit.[/caption] People often ask me about what it is like to be an exotics vet. I have to be honest, it’s pretty great! There are ups and downs like anything (no veterinarian likes to lose a patient), but there are some really unique aspects of this job that I wouldn’t experience anywhere else!

A Surprise Every Day

I can’t think of another job that would allow me to care for a 6 foot Red-tailed boa, a hedgehog, a guinea pig, a rabbit, a duck, a ferret, a koi fish, a cockatiel and a bearded dragon all in the same day. For me every day can bring a new set of special animals from all species through the doors. I really enjoy working with these animals and the amazing people who love and commit to them.

We Can Do It All!

[caption id="attachment_11196" align="alignright" width="170"]42244414_1984670471597680_6561552749350092800_o Dr. Corcoran performing x-rays on a Cichlid (fish)[/caption] From a medical point of view, the variety is just as exciting for me. With exotic animals, specialty care can involve surgery, ultrasound, endoscopy, internal medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, cardiology, neurology or critical care. I primarily work in the hospital, but also get the chance to assist other veterinarians with cases remotely and sometimes do house calls for animals that have more difficulty traveling (koi or large pot-bellied pigs for example). The variety of animals and the variety of services offered definitely keeps things new and interesting in this profession. Offering this advanced level of care to these animals makes me a happy doctor.

The Best Part

That all being said, one of the best parts of the job for me is experiencing the special bond that develops between these animals and their human caretakers.
Seeing a Bearded Dragon come in for an appointment wearing a fuzzy jacket or meeting a Guinea Pig that is a certified therapy animal makes my day better every time.
I love the opportunity to help with new ways to strengthen that bond by giving advice on enrichment and training as much as I get satisfaction from ensuring that the relationship lasts as long as possible by improving the health and well-being of the pet. beardieI’m very happy to be starting an exotics service here at Bulger Veterinary Hospital and I look forward to meeting many new unique pets and their families. A member of my exotic animal family is pictured below. This is Button, my Bearded Dragon, enjoying a soak in the tub.  

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Wildlife: Let Them Wonder, Not Wander

As the temperatures begin to cool, there are many different species of animals that become more active. When outdoors, it is very important to be aware of what other animals may be in the vicinity. During dawn and dusk, many animals are making their way to and from their food sources. Keeping a close eye out for coyotes will help keep you and your beloved pet safe. We even see coyotes in Natick, an industrialized city! Other creatures your dog may be enticed to chase or start a brawl with include: Our hospitals are located in areas where these animals coexist with the surrounding human habitat, but interactions are inevitable. Keys to safety are staying in well-lit areas, keeping your dog leashed and your cat inside, always announcing your presence with noise (i.e. carrying jingling car keys), and staying away from game trails during peak hours of dawn and dusk. If your pet has an interaction with wildlife, we are always here for your medical needs.

Itchy, Sneezy, Runny Fall Allergies

October is a big allergy month for many pets.Dogue de Bordeaux puppy, fleas attack Being aware of the signs of increased allergies can help you catch symptoms early and treat them appropriately. Just as with humans, many allergy symptoms can be very frustrating for pets. The most common symptoms of seasonal allergies with pets are: If you notice these symptoms, it’s important to seek the advice of a veterinarian as treatment for allergies can help prevent further complications; Also, these symptoms may be a smaller sign of a bigger problem, so the medical guidance of a doctor can help determine that.

Pumpkin Spice Everything!?

It may be tempting to share your delicious pumpkin spice treats with your pet, but we recommend steering away from sharing these foods. Some pumpkin spice goods contain coco powder and/or nutmeg which are considered toxic to dogs. If you want to share the season with your pet, we suggest purchasing pet-specific treats from your local pet store or plain canned pumpkin (not the pie filling!) These are a safe options for pets and allow them to experience all the flavors of fall with you! Check out our Pumpkin Peanut Butter Balls recipe for a pet-safe yummy treat!

Yard Work Dangers

Chemicals: With the season change, many folks chooseyoung border collie dog playing with leaves in autumn to treat their yards with a variety of fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, or snail bait. Many of these items are listed as toxic to animals, including your pets. If you choose to treat your yard with any chemical or fertilizer that is toxic to animals, please follow the instructions regarding how long to keep your pet away from these areas. Mulches: Be careful in your selection of mulch, especially if using cocoa mulch which contains theobromine, a highly toxic and lethal chemical for pets if ingested. Mulches and other damp areas in your yard may also invite mushrooms which can also be toxic to pets. We always recommend using pet-safe alternatives when available to avoid the potential for contact with your pet. If you think your pet may have come into contact with a fertilizer, lawn chemical, or any other toxin, please make your way to the nearest emergency room. Time is always of the essence when toxins are involved and it’s vital to seek treatment immediately.

Dog Parks

‘Tis the season for increased attendance at the local dog parks! The comfortable temperatures and crisp evenings make autumn a great season to bring your pet to the park! Please refer to our blog about dog park safety for further advice.  

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Welcome back to our pet recipes series!
For October, we are preparing for Halloween and paying tribute to the pumpkin patch. There's a chill in the air and the pumpkins are ready for picking. It's time for some delicious autumn treats for your furry friends!

Awesome Autumn Appetizers

20181014_193526   These petite appetizers are perfect for a training reward or even to hide medication inside. They’re soft and aromatic and surely to get your pup ready for the day ahead!  

Ingredients:20181014_190015

 

Instructions:Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 2.43.14 PM

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix together all ingredients in a bowl until dough is firm.
  3. Roll small, ½ inch sized balls of dough – you get to use your hands! Place dough balls about 1 inch apart on lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for about 12 minutes or until treats start to brown. Allow to cool and serve to your furry friend!
 

Enjoy!

Tested and approved by CoCo Bean, Miss Piggy, and Smeagol!     [playlist type="video" ids="11161,11162,11163"]
  Stay tuned for next month's November/Thanksgiving-themed recipe!  

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What are cataracts?

A cataract is defined as any opacity orCataracts client handout cloudiness within the lens of the eye. The lens of the eye functions much like the lens of a camera, helping to focus images on the retina so that they may be seen clearly. Cataracts interfere with light reaching the retina, resulting in blurred vision. If severe enough, cataracts can result in total blindness. In dogs, cataracts are often inherited with the cataract genetically programmed to occur. Other common causes of cataracts in dogs include diabetes, ocular trauma, and ocular inflammation.

How are cataracts treated?

[caption id="attachment_11130" align="alignright" width="180"]Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 2.21.50 PM Dr. Gervais performing a cataract surgery on a Boston Terrier[/caption] Once cataracts develop in a dog’s eyes, there are no medical treatments that can reverse the cataract. In order to restore vision, cataracts must be removed surgically under general anesthesia. During surgery, the cloudy cataractous lens is removed by a process called phacoemulsification. With this procedure, the cataract is fragmented and aspirated from the eye through a small incision. An artificial lens implant (intraocular lens, or IOL) is then placed inside the eye to allow images to be focused on the retina and the animal to see clearly. In addition to restoring vision to dogs who are blinded by cataracts, cataract surgery also helps to keep your dog’s eyes healthy and pain-free. Chronic cataracts cause inflammation inside the eyes, which can lead to secondary problems such as retinal detachment and glaucoma. By removing this source of inflammation from inside the eye, cataract surgery reduces the risk for these secondary complications.

Is my dog a candidate for cataract surgery?

Prior to performing cataract surgery, we must ensure that both your pet and their eyes are in otherwise good health. We will recommend routine blood screening tests to evaluate overall health so that your pet may safely undergo anesthesia. We also perform two specific tests for the eyes to ensure that there is good potential for restoration of vision after surgery:

Will my dog regain vision after cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery in dogs is considered a very successful procedure with a high rate of positive outcome. Once the cataract is successfully removed, 95% of patients regain vision immediately once they recover from the procedure. The long-term prognosis for maintaining vision after surgery is 90% at 1 year postoperatively, and 80% at 2 years post-operatively. The most common complications of the surgery are chronic inflammation in the eyes, retinal detachment, and glaucoma (high pressure inside the eye). Although these complications are infrequent, they may result in loss of vision after surgery in some patients. If your pet is at higher risk for any of these complications, these factors will be discussed in detail prior to moving forward with surgery.

What is the recovery time after surgery?

[caption id="attachment_11136" align="alignright" width="188"]27788559_1797789433629448_552314855596129416_o Dr. Gervais performing an eye exam on a dog[/caption] The initial healing period after cataract surgery is 2 weeks. During this time, your dog will need to wear an E-collar (cone) at all times and have his or her activity restricted to leash walks only. You will also need to administer several medications to your dog during this period, including oral medications and eye drops. Good compliance with the post-operative care protocol is a critical part of achieving a good outcome of cataract surgery for your dog. Your dog will return for his or her first post-operative recheck examination 2 weeks after surgery. At this time, the number of medications you’ll need to administer to your pet will decrease. It is important to note that you will need to continue to administer eye drops to your dog for several months after the surgery (gradually tapered down to twice a day); some dogs may need to remain on eye drops lifelong. This will be determined over a series of recheck examinations within the first year after surgery. Your pet will also need to return for recheck examinations at least once a year for the remainder of his or her life in order to ensure a continued good outcome after the procedure.

What if my dog is not a candidate for cataract surgery?

The most common reasons why a dog may not be a candidate for surgery include pre-existing retinal detachment, retinal degeneration, glaucoma, or severe inflammation inside the eyes. Although we wish to restore vision in dogs with cataracts whenever possible, fortunately dogs who remain blind live an excellent quality of life. Dogs have a remarkable ability to adapt to and navigate their environment using their other senses! If your dog does not undergo surgery, an anti-inflammatory eye drop will be prescribed to be given once to twice daily for the remainder of your pet’s life. These drops will reduce the chance for your dog to develop potentially painful problems secondary to inflammation caused by the cataracts (for example, glaucoma). We also recommend routine recheck examinations to make sure that your dog’s eyes remain pain-free and as healthy as possible.
  38072387_2068840046524384_44436891285585920_nDr. Gervais joined our Boston West team in September 2017 and passed her boards the summer of 2018 to become a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist. We are so happy to have her as part of our Ethos family!

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If the Shoe Doesn't Fit, Don't Make Them Wear it.

Just like your favorite pair of jeans, pet costumes should not be too tight or too loose. Keep in mind, pets cannot tell us when something feels too restrictive. Items that are baggy can also pose a tripping/choking hazard as well. Less is more when it comes to playing dress-up so keep it simple and comfortable!

Headwear and Wigs – Best Left for the Humans.

Headwear and wigs that are made forCat Wearing Heart Glasses pets often have an elastic band on them. It is very difficult to find an appropriate fit with elastic bands that sit around the chin/upper neck of your pet. If a band is too tight, it may begin to dig into the skin and potentially cause trauma. Opt for something that sits towards the back of the head or rests softly about the ears. The less fastening an item requires, the more comfortable your pet will be.

Makeup and Paint – Make Them Fabulous, Safely.

It’s very tempting to draw designs on your pet this time of year. It seems that many folks either want a fluorescent pink companion or to turn their all white dog into a zebra. Choosing a paint that is vegetable based and non-toxic is vital to preventing reactions to chemicals and other additives. Do not use human make-up on your furry friends; it is generally not pet safe. If you want some help picking out pet-friendly dyes or makeups, visit your local pet store for guidance. Some of the products even wash away with one rinse!

Cast Light Upon Thy Pet!

If you plan on taking your pet on anDog Outside on Leash copy adventure for Halloween night, be sure to use a high-visibility leash and a light source. Walking your pet in the dark can be dangerous without the proper visibility items – stay safe and keep the light on. You can even pretend it’s a spotlight for your pet!

Trick-or-Treat, Without the Treat

With all the candy that will surely be floating around this Halloween, it’s critical that you keep track of your pet’s activities. Ask your friends and children around you to not give your pet any treats without your permission and always inform those around you that chocolate and other sweets can be very toxic to pets. Sharing this knowledge can help prevent an accidental ingestion of a toxin. Accidents do happen, however; and we are here for you if they do. If you suspect your pet has eaten any chocolate or other candy items, please visit one of our hospitals for assessment. It could save your pet's life! We hope this advice provides you with some basic guidelines to enjoy this Halloween with your pet! Remember, we are open 24/7/365, though we hope not to see you and your pet this Halloween!

Have a safe and fun Howloween!

 

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What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus is a disease in dogs and cats in which insulin is no longer produced by the body or insulin is still produced but the body no longer responds to it. When the body doesn’t respond to insulin this is termed “insulin resistant.” Diabetes mellitus in which the animal no longer makes insulin occurs in dogs and cats and is a life-long condition. Insulin resistance is seen in cats and in cases in which insulin resistance is the only reason the cat develops diabetes this can be a reversable condition.

What Goes Wrong?

Under normal conditions, insulin is the hormone made in that body that allows glucose (sugar) to enter all the cells in the body. Glucose is then used by the cells as a source of energy enabling the cells to perform normal functions. Without insulin, or when insulin resistance is present, glucose cannot be used by the body’s cells. When this happens there are two major consequences:

How is it Treated?

Diabetes is treated by givingVeterinarian giving injection to a little cat insulin to dogs and cats when they eat in order to allow them to utilize glucose normally. In most cases this means giving an injection of insulin twice a day for the remainder of the pet’s life. This requires commitment from the owner in terms of daily care as well as ensuring appropriate pet care when the owner is on vacation – even for just 1 day. Your veterinarian will be responsible for starting your pet on insulin at the time of diagnosis. Several types of insulin are available but no single insulin is "perfect" for every cat or dog. Owners of all diabetic dogs and cats must understand that the treatment of diabetes may require close monitoring and adjustments always at the time of diagnosis and sometimes down the road if a pet’s insulin needs change.

What is the Prognosis?

Most diabetic dogs and cats treated with insulin lead healthy and happy lives without any signs of illness. It is important to know that in both dogs and cats with diabetes there is increased risk for developing urinary tract infections, pancreatitis, and Diabetic Keto-Acidosis (DKA), which is a life-threatening condition. There are a few other consequences of diabetes that are species-specific. Virtually all dogs with diabetes will develop diabetic cataracts, eventually causing blindness. A corrective surgery does exist in which the cataracts are removed and, in most cases, vision is restored. In cats with long-standing diabetes, hind end weakness often develops due to diabetic neuropathy.

Is Diabetes the Same in Pets as in Humans?

If you know a person with diabetes or have diabetes yourself, it is important to recognize that while the principle in how diabetes is treated is the same, there are many differences between how people are treated and how dogs and cats are treated. Always follow the guidance of your veterinarian for instructions on how best to manage your pet’s diabetes.   Helping injured dogIf you think your pet may have diabetes or you are unsure, consult with your veterinarian. Early detection can help your pet live longer and happier, and you know your pet better than anyone else.  

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What is a Dream?

The definition of the word dream is: "a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person's mind during sleep.” The most vivid dreams occur during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep. You can actually see the eyes moving, even when the eyelids are shut, in both mammals and birds. During REM sleep, brain activity is very high which is why dreams typically occur during this time. Dreams may occur during other stages of sleep, but they usually are not as vivid. Reptiles and fish do not experience REM cycles, so it is believed that those species do not have dreams.

How Long Have We Wondered About Animals Dreaming?

To my dismay, it turns out that I am not the first person in the world to ever wonder if animals dream. It is actuallyjester2 reported the Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, studied dreams in both humans and animals during the B.C. time period! In his work, “On Sleep and Sleeplessness” he wrote: “It would appear that not only do men dream, but horses also, and dogs, and oxen; aye, and sheep, and goats, and all viviparous quadrupeds (animals who give birth to live young); and dogs show their dreaming by barking in their sleep.” Although his research may be written a bit differently than things we may read now, he was not far off in his thoughts; he was brilliant!

1965: Domestic Animals Dream of Being Wild Again

French scientists Michel Jouvet and J.F. Delorme also did some very interesting research regarding animals and dreaming. They conducted an experiment in which they removed part of a cat's brainstem (the pons) which prevented the cat from experiencing atony (paralysis during REM sleep). Through this research, they learned that cats would actually sleep walk and show predatory behaviors as if they were hunting. The same type of behavior was also shown in dogs.

2001-2012: Rats & Music, and Birds Practicing Songs in their Sleep

[caption id="attachment_11039" align="alignright" width="166"]rat Figure 1: Image from MIT[/caption] Jumping forward, MIT also conducted research on animals dreaming, but this time using rats. They were able to see the ways the brain reacted while rats were being directed through a maze, and also when they were sleeping. Their brains showed the same patterns of activity during both scenarios! Figure 1 illustrates the brain activity of the rat during different scenarios. They took it to the next step and played certain sounds/music while the rats made it through different sides of the maze. When the rats were sleeping, they played the sounds associated with the left side of the maze, and then with the right side of the maze. Matthew Wilson of MIT said in an interview, “When the sound associated with the right side was played, the dream content switched to the right side of the maze.” [caption id="attachment_11041" align="alignright" width="210"]finch Image from newscientist.com[/caption] Biologists at the University of Chicago, Amish Dave and Daniel Margoliash studied the firing patterns of neurons in the zebra finches. Most of us know that birds are not born knowing how to tweet melodies; it is a learned behavior. The biologists noted the electrical brain patterns while the finches sang notes while they were awake. They could tell which notes the finches were singing simply by the way the neurons in the forebrain (robutus archistriatalis) were firing. When the birds were asleep, Dave and Daniel watched the electrical activity in the brain and noticed that the firing of the neurons were very similar as to when they were awake. This proved that the finches were actually practicing their songs while they were sleeping!

Dreaming Cats & Dogs

Unfortunately, not as much research has been done in dogs and cats simply for the fact that it may be a bit more complicated to gather the resources to do the research. Though, scientists do believe that dogs and cats dream about everyday activities. So when your dog softly barks and twitches his/her paws or your cat moves his/her paws as if they are participating in the Catlympics, they are likely dreaming of playing with their toys, eating, or chasing their animal friends. It is definitely comforting to think that your beloved pet may even be thinking of you, and all the fond memories of the day's events! Dream on! IMG_1574  

More Information:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140425-what-do-animals-dream-about

https://people.com/pets/what-is-your-cat-or-dog-dreaming-about-a-harvard-expert-has-some-answers/

htpps://thecut.com/2016/10/do-animals-dream.html

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  1. Fatty Foods

Fatty foods aren’t toxic to animals, but they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, and in worse cases, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or GI issues. Symptoms may take a few days to present themselves. Some dog breeds are more susceptible to pancreatitis including Miniature Schnauzers, Miniature Poodles, and Cocker Spaniels. Fatty Thanksgiving foods to avoid sharing include:
  1. Stuffing

Speaking of fatty foods, stuffing is also high on the “no” list for pets. Not only is it high in fat, but it can also contain multiple ingredients which are toxic to animals: onions, garlic, chives, and pepper. Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate which can cause hemolytic anemia (damage to red blood cells) in pets. For this reason, other foods using onions such as gravy, basted turkey skin, and casseroles shouldn’t be given to dogs or cats either.
  1. Turkey Brine

If you have jumped on the recent trendScreen Shot 2018-11-15 at 2.32.24 PM of brining your turkey before cooking it, the turkey comes out of the oven with a salt-saturated solution that smells scrumptious to cats and dogs (and humans). This high sodium content can cause salt poisoning in pets. More information on salt poisoning is available here.
  1. Pumpkin Pie

Though plain canned pumpkin can be a healthful treat for pets, sugar-filled pumpkin pie filling is not. Additionally, nutmeg contains a toxin called myristicin, which can cause stomach upset in pets and in large amounts can cause additional severe symptoms.
  1. Discarded Foods

Keep your trash inaccessible and sealed tight – even the best behaved pet can be lured into bad trash etiquette around Thanksgiving. Also keep an eye on the table and counter tops piled high with food and scraps, because you know they are. If your pet grabs a discarded corn cob, turkey trussing, or turkey bone, they are likely to swallow it whole as quick as they can, this can cause a risk for choking, obstruction or a GI injury. If a corn cob or bone gets stuck, or causes internal damage, a surgical or endoscopic removal may be the only option to prevent further damage.
  1. Dark Chocolate Desserts

Most pet owners know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but did you know it only takes a very small amount of Bakers chocolate or cocoa powder to cause severe toxicity? If you’re baking sweet treats, keep the baking chocolate (or your pet) far, far away. If family members are bringing dark chocolate cakes, brownies, cookies, fudge, dipped fruit, or pies, make sure that pieces aren’t getting accidentally dropped on the floor and quickly gobbled up by your dog. It only takes a few ounces of dark chocolate to cause toxicity, and even less for baking chocolate. To calculate your dog’s toxicity, you can use this toxicity meter.
  1. Nuts & Raisins

Nuts, found in many Thanksgiving pies, breads, and platters, are another fatty food that poses a risk of pancreatitis in dogs. Macadamia nuts are more serious, as ingestions can result in more dangerous consequences. Raisins, often found in pie, stuffing, casseroles, and salads, can cause acute (sudden) renal failure in some dogs as well.  

Symptoms to watch out for post-Thanksgiving:

  If you are worried about your dog or cat finding a plate of food, eating fallen scraps off the floor, or family members who are too generous in sharing their dinner, keep your pet confined in a separate room or boarded in a kennel over the holiday. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you think your pet has eaten something, or if they present any of the above symptoms over the holiday, bring them to the nearest ER. Time counts in these situations. Though you may want to try to investigate or monitor them before rushing to the car, remember toxicity can happen quickly and severely in pets.  

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