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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

Signs of Cancer in Dogs and Cats You May Overlook

11/24/2016

 

Because dogs and cats age much faster than people do, pet owners often mistake symptoms of cancer for normal aging. Many are unaware that cancer is the leading cause of death in pets, especially dogs over age 10. Since November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, Minnesota Veterinary Hospital would like everyone who owns a dog or cat to be aware of the following symptoms of cancer:

• Abnormal discharge: Bleeding, diarrhea, expelling pus, or vomiting are not normal and should be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible. A distended or bloated stomach may indicate that the pet is showing signs of internal discharge.
• Appetite change: Disinterest in eating or refusing to eat at all could indicate an oral tumor that makes chewing and swallowing difficult for the pet.
• Body and breath odor: When cancer occurs in the anal region, nose, or mouth, it can produce highly offensive odors.
• Coughing or breathing difficulty: When cancer has spread to a pet's lungs, it usually causes frequent coughing and even gasping for air.
• Elimination changes: The dog or cat may urinate or defecate more frequently or less often. His or her stools may also be loose or bloody.
• Lethargy: Pets that sleep more, seem depressed, and are less willing to engage in exercise or play may be exhibiting early signs of cancer.
• New lumps or bumps: A hard mass that wasn't there before could indicate an internal tumor.
• Non-healing wounds: When a cut or wound doesn't heal in a normal amount of time, it may be cancer that is preventing it from healing.
• Pain: Limping or refusing to use one of the legs may indicate a tumor growing on a bone.
• Weight loss: If you haven’t put your pet on a diet, any sudden weight loss should be checked by a veterinarian.

Never Dismiss Symptoms
While these 10 symptoms don't necessarily mean cancer, we recommend scheduling an immediate appointment if you notice any of them. It is important to determine whether cancer or another health issue is causing problems for your pet. His or her regular veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination and order diagnostic tests to figure out exactly what is causing the symptoms. 

If it is cancer, we will begin treating it right away so your pet can remain comfortable and have a good chance of overcoming it. While a cancer diagnosis is difficult to hear, the staff at Minnesota Veterinary Hospital are dedicated to helping your pet survive and thrive in spite of it. After all, November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month.

Photo Credit: Eriklam / Getty Images
 

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FDA Warns of Danger of Unregulated Online Pet Pharmacies

11/14/2016

 

In response to the many fraudulent online stores selling pet medication, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to pet owners in early 2015. Anyone dispensing veterinary medication must abide by FDA regulations to ensure the safety of animals nationwide. A common practice of unregulated online pet pharmacies is to entice pet owners by promising cheap medications without the need for a prescription. Another practice that led to multiple complaints to the FDA is online veterinary pharmacies that sell counterfeit or expired drugs. Sometimes the product received was not even for the right species of animal.
 
Pets Must Be Personally Evaluated to Receive a New Prescription
Federal regulations require a veterinarian to examine a patient personally before writing a prescription to treat an illness or injury. However, disreputable online pharmacies find a way around this law as well. The owners of these websites, who often have no veterinary training at all, state that they will evaluate a pet based on a health form the owner completes. Not only does that not usually happen, but the person placing the order may receive drugs in the wrong strength and size for the pet’s condition. The medication may not even be appropriate for the health condition or injury.
 
One common complaint to the FDA is online pharmacies dispensing heartworm medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs to pet owners without a valid prescription. Dogs, cats, and other companion animals that take these medications need to be closely monitored by a licensed veterinarian. These drugs also require a blood test prior to getting started with them. Obviously, an unregulated online pharmacy can’t analyze the results of a blood test to prescribe the correct medication.
 
Obtain Your Pet’s Medication from Minnesota Veterinary Hospital
When your pet’s veterinarian writes a new prescription for your pet, he or she will give it to you directly. If your pet needs refills or maintenance medication, we offer the option of ordering from My Vet Store Online. If you click on Medications, you will notice that you can order from one of nearly two dozen categories. Some of these include antibiotics, pain management, gastrointestinal, and insulin. You can order a single dose of medication for home delivery though the Easy Dose It program as well as set up repeat monthly shipments. 
 
When you receive veterinary medicine from Minnesota Veterinary Hospital, you have the assurance of knowing that it has FDA approval. In addition, individual manufacturers guarantee the quality and reliability of their products. With something as important as your pet’s health on the line, it just isn’t worth taking the risk to save a few dollars. 


Photo Credit: naumoid / Getty Image

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October is National Pet Wellness Month

10/20/2016

 

Pet Wellness Month was started by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2004 to bring awareness to pet owners on what they could do to increase longevity and quality of life for their pets. One misconception that people have is that a pet is fine as long as he isn’t sick. Just as with people, true wellness for domestic pets involves several different factors. We encourage you to consider the following: 

Learn which vaccines your pet needs and then make sure she gets them on schedule. Vaccines prevent serious illnesses and protect other pets who may be more vulnerable to picking up viruses. Our staff will let you know which vaccines are essential and which are optional depending on your pet’s species, age, lifestyle, and other individual factors. 
 
Make sure that you schedule an annual preventive care exam for your pet. Dogs and cats over age seven, along with puppies and kittens, need more frequent veterinary visits to ensure their good health. Annual check-ups make it possible to spot and monitor health issues as early as possible. They also give you the chance to bring up any concerns, such as behavioral issues, diet, and sleep habits. 
 
Your pet needs a regular oral hygiene routine just as you do. You might be surprised at how cooperative your dog or cat will be with tooth brushing if you introduce it early and make it a consistent habit. Good oral hygiene also reduces the risk of diabetes as well as problems with the heart, joints, and kidneys. 

Spaying or neutering your pet prevents unwanted litters of puppies and kittens that may never find a loving home. Additionally, altering your pet eliminates aggressive behavior related to the mating ritual. It can even reduce the risk of your pet developing health issues such as tumors of the mammary glands. 

Minnesota is the land of tornadoes, floods, blizzards, and other weather emergencies. A fire can break out in your home as well. You’re naturally stressed and not thinking clearly when an emergency arises, so make sure that you prepare for one in advance. Gathering your pet’s supplies in a bag that you can grab quickly and knowing how to evacuate with your pet increases the likelihood of him surviving a disaster. 

Your pet needs nutritious food specific to his species in order to thrive. It’s up to you to read food labels carefully and avoid buying anything with artificial fillers that don’t add any nutritional value. While the occasional treat is fine, your pet should have to earn it. Daily exercise is just as essential as nutritious food for your pet’s overall well-being. 
It is important to protect your pet from parasites all year long. We are happy to recommend a specific product for heartworm, fleas, ticks, and other common internal and external parasites. 
 
The staff at Minnesota Veterinary Hospital appreciates the opportunity to work with you to ensure a happy and healthy life for your pet. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with additional questions about your pet’s wellness. 

Photo Credit:  Hybrid Images / Getty Images

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