Category Archives: Pet Health & Wellness

Sneezy, Wheezy, and Snorey: Feline Asthma and Other Cat Breathing Noises

If your cat is suddenly making noise while breathing that you aren’t used to hearing, you may be understandably concerned. While the occasional kitty sneeze or sniffle can be adorable, many times changes in breathing noises can indicate a problem.

So how is a pet owner to know whether a cat-sized wheeze is just a one-off or something more serious like feline asthma? Thankfully, you aren’t expected to have all the answers. This is where your friends at West Park Animal Hospital come in.

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Tips and Tricks for Pet Ear Cleaning

The special anatomy of cat and dog ears can create certain challenges. Infection and inflammation are common ailments that affect multiple parts of the ear, but injury can also occur. All problems in and around the ear have the potential for intense discomfort and should be properly addressed. Pet ear cleaning is just one way to promote overall health of this part of the body, and we’ve got some tips to help you get started!

A Closer Look

The outer ear is called the pinna. Dog breeds with long, floppy ears, those with a lot of hair around the ear, and swimmers are more prone to suffering ear infections. The pinna is also susceptible to bites, scratches, or abrasions.

The middle ear contains the fragile eardrum (tympanic membrane), small bones, an air-filled cavity, and a thin tube that leads to the back of the mouth.

The inner ear contains nerves and is comprised of the centers for hearing and balance. It also connects to the brain.

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Beneath the Surface: Common Skin Conditions in Dogs

Just like in humans, a dog’s skin is their largest organ, and it plays an incredible role in their overall health. Whether it’s regulating body temperature, creating vitamin D, or providing a critical line of defense against pathogens, the skin is truly an amazing thing!

That’s why when the skin is impacted by health issues, major problems can arise. According to Nationwide Pet Insurance, skin conditions in dogs are among the top reasons they’re seen by a veterinarian, so it’s important to take the health of your pet’s skin seriously. After all, when the skin suffers, your dog suffers, too!

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Happy Tail Syndrome in Dogs

A dog’s tail is their “stamp” on the world. It can communicate joy, fear, uncertainty, or confidence. It is part of their identity.

So what’s a pet to do when their tail is hurt? Tail injuries can be difficult and frustrating to manage. West Park Animal Hospital is happy to help fix tails whenever we can, but happy tail syndrome in dogs can be quite the conundrum.

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Sick as a Dog: Can You Catch a Cold From Your Pet?

The simple answer to this question is yes, but it is extremely rare.

If you and your cat or dog are both sick at the same time, you may think you caught a cold from your pet, or vice versa. Some symptoms are certainly similar. An Upper Respiratory Infection (URI), usually referred to in humans as the common cold, is caused by any number of different viruses. However, the viruses that cause cold-like symptoms in humans, dogs, and cats rarely jump from one species to another.

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Pet Nutritional Supplements: Necessary or Needless?

Many Americans take a multivitamin to supplement their diet, fish oil for heart health, or a joint supplement to quell arthritis pains. This habit of utilizing supplements to support overall health and well-being has crossed over into the world of pet products as well.

As you peruse pet-related blogs, online animal care communities, and the aisles of the pet store you may start to wonder whether you need to or should jump on the bandwagon. Are pet nutritional supplements necessary? Are they safe? How do you choose? Your friends at West Park Animal Hospital have the scoop!

What’s in a Supplement?

A supplement is something that completes or enhances something else (in this case, your pet’s diet). With nearly one-third of dog owners and one-fifth of cat owners purchasing one for their pet, it is important to understand why and how you might choose one.

Some pet nutritional supplements are more common than others. A few of the more commonly administered include:

Glucosamine/chondroitin — These ingredients are typically used to support overall joint health and ameliorate the effects of arthritis.

Fish oil — The long chain fatty acids in fish oil supplements have been shown to have some anti-inflammatory effects that may be helpful in the treatment of heart, skin, kidney, and joint disease when delivered in the correct doses.

Turmeric — Touted for its anti-inflammatory effects for arthritis patients and cancer-controlling properties, this herb has begun to make an appearance in the veterinary world.

Probiotics — Helping to support a healthy digestive tract can be important to overall health and immune function. Supplementing the gut with healthy bacteria has some obvious benefits

Hairball remediesSome cats routinely regurgitate hairballs, and many feline caretakers reach for these supplements designed to help hair pass more easily through the digestive tract.

When selecting nutritional supplements, it’s important to know the potential side effects of what you’re buying.Your pet depends on you in order to receive the best care possible.

Purchasing human fish oil capsules containing toxic Xylitol, not being aware of the fact that glucosamine can alter blood sugar metabolism, or being oblivious to turmeric’s anticoagulant properties can potentially cause great harm. Populating your pet’s gut with less-than helpful human bacteria doesn’t really reap any benefits, and trying to fix your cat’s inflammatory bowel disease with petroleum based hairball products could delay a proper diagnosis.

The Bottom Line About Pet Nutritional Supplements

Safety, efficacy, and quality control are huge concerns when it comes to pet nutritional supplements. Because they are not subject to the same FDA regulations as veterinary drugs, it can be difficult to know if what you are purchasing is pure.

This also means that just about any one can write just about anything about them. It can be next to impossible to sort fact from fiction.

As veterinarians and scientists, we stand behind evidence-based medicine and make our supplement recommendations based on what research is available to us. It is important to “first do no harm”, and we must recognize that supplements can have many different effects on the body.

When administering supplements to your pet, it is important to work with our veterinary team in order to select one. Our expertise can help with:

  • Deciding what, if any, supplements may be helpful for your pet
  • Arriving at correct and efficacious dose
  • Selecting a product with good quality control practices
  • Navigating any potential interactions with other medications or conflicts with existing health problems
  • Troubleshooting potential side effects
  • Avoiding possible toxicities

For some animals pet nutritional supplements can bring benefits to overall health. It is important, however, to assess their need and choose one in concert with animal health professionals.

If you have questions about supplements for your pet, call us today so that we can discuss the matter further. Adding supplements can have positive effects on your pet’s health, but only if done correctly and safely.

New to Pet Ownership? These Helpful Hacks Will Get You on Track

Pet ownership is rewarding and wonderful

Pet owners are very lucky people. They get a daily dose of unconditional love, entertainment, and oodles of cuddles (not to mention the health benefits that stem from this special relationship, as well!). To be sure, the perks are great, but if you’re new to pet ownership, caring for an animal can sometimes be a guessing game. In other words, the learning curve can be a little steep.

To get you over the hump, the team at West Park Animal Hospital has gathered some real-life hacks to help you fully embrace the wonderful joys of pet ownership.

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One Day at a Time: Training Tips for Blind and Deaf Pets

Training blind and deaf pets isn't hard and can improve their quality of life!

Finding out your pet is losing their hearing or vision can be a devastating blow to any pet owner. Concerns regarding care and quality of life are common, and many pet owners also wonder how they’ll maintain their pet’s obedience skills if they can no longer see or hear.

The team at West Park Animal Hospital wants to assure you that training blind and deaf pets doesn’t have to be difficult. With a few adjustments and plenty of loving compassion, your special pet can still reap all the benefits of obedience training.

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving: West Park Animal Hospital’s Top 5 Pet Care Blogs of 2018

It has been the most wonderful time of the year, and we have so much to be grateful for. West Park Animal Hospital has been a part of the Cleveland, Lakewood, and Fairview Park pet care community for many years and we have you to thank. We’ve had a busy and exciting year, and we’re so glad to have shared so much of it with our clients and their pets.

Hopefully, we’ve given back a little to you with the exceptional pet care and client service that we strive for. A part of that has been to provide you with timely, educational topics that interest and inform you on our pet care blogs. With that, we’ve taken some time to compile West Park Animal Hospital’s Top 5 pet care blogs of 2018, and we hope you enjoy looking back with us!

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