Part 1 – Flea and Tick Trivia With Dr. Rod Van Horn

How knowledgeable are you about fleas and ticks and the diseases they can transmit to your dogs, cats, and people? While this is probably more than most fifth graders would know, (I am not smarter than a fifth grader, I will admit, based on the TV show), it will test you and, I hope, provide some insight (and fun) into these unwanted, gross, and disease-carrying…

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Heat Stroke in Cats: Know the Signs

Even though heatstroke is more common in dogs than in cats, cats can get it, and it is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention. Signs of heat stroke Panting or rapid breathing Restlessness Drooling Excessive grooming Sweaty paws Bright red gums and tongue Vomiting Stumbling Unresponsiveness High fever Collapse Extreme lethargy What to […]

The post Heat Stroke in Cats: Know the Signs appeared first on The Conscious Cat.

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Birth Control for Dogs and Cats

Innovative Approaches

This weekend I’ll be the keynote speaker at the 5th International Symposium on Non-Surgical Contraceptive Methods of Pet Population Control. The conference title is a bit of a mouthful, but the basic idea is this: Can scientists develop a drug that will permanently sterilize dogs and cats? Or, put even more simply, can we make “the pill” for pets?tags: blogeventsnewshumanescience

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How to … Treat Diarrhea at Home

Up next in our “How to” series, treating diarrhea in dogs and cats at home and when it’s best to seek immediate veterinary attention.

Diarrhea in pets has a way of getting an owner’s attention. From the standpoint of the mess involved and the disruption to the household’s normal routine it certainly is a crisis, but in many cases diarrhea is not a real emergency and is amenable to home treatment. There are times, however, when pets should see a veterinarian without delay.

If any of the following …

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Safe and Effective Mosquito Control

Dynatrap Insect Trap -1/2 Acre The Original Insect Trap


Mosquitoes in Houston are a fact of life. We are used to encountering them in the morning and again in the evening, but the introduction of the Asian Tigris mosquito has changed the ball game. This particular mosquito is aggressive and doesn’t care what time it is or whom she bites. She will feed on dogs, cats and people. This mosquito has adapted to our environment and is responsible for the spread of heartworms across the United States in our pets and may also now carry the West Nile Virus.

One item that I have been using now for several years is the Dynatrap Mosquito trap and it has significantly reduced the mosquito population in my yard and I live on 7 acres. I have one on my front porch and one on my back porch and I no longer have to swat the mosquitoes as I leave for work in the morning or come home at night.

The DynaTrap offers 3 way protection – first, two UV fluorescent bulbs produce inviting, cozy, warm light to attract insects. Then the TiO2-titanium dioxide coated funnel works with the warmth of the light to produce CO2 — irresistible to mosquitoes and luring other flying insects into the DynaTrap. Finally, a whisper quiet fan — quiet, yet powerful — traps insects into the retaining cage. It does not use insecticides, so it is safe around your family and pets.

There is also an indoor model to place in your house to catch the lone mosquito buzzing in your ear. By the way the one that buzzes is the male. He buzzes to attract the female but he does not bite. It is the female mosquito that must take a blood meal in order to lay eggs. It is during the blood meal that diseases such as West Nile virus and Heartworm larvae are excreted in her saliva and then are injected into your body.

It took a week before I noticed a significant reduction, but now I can walk out the door without a swarm of blood suckers waiting for me.  It cannot protect you from every mosquito but it will reduce the population dramatically. These traps are available at Amazon, Sears and Home Depot, but if you order through my link above, the clinic will earn a small commission.

Other ways to help reduce the mosquito population is to remove any standing water around your home. It does not take a lot of water for the mosquito eggs to hatch and the larvae grow and develop.

Also be sure that your dog and cat are on an effective heartworm prevention every month all year round. The mosquito season is year round in Houston.

For more information on the West Nile Virus, please check out the following links

West Nile CDC Updates

West Nile PDF download

West Nile Cases Map

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, is an intensely itchy skin disease caused by a Sarcoptes scabei, a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin. Although dogs, cats, and humans all have a similar condition known as scabies, the mites are different for each host. Scabies in dogs is not the same as scabies in people.

Red, crusty lesions are most commonly seen on the ears, elbows and trunk of infected dogs. The lesions are extremely itchy, helping to distinguish sarcoptic mange from other skin conditions like ringworm and demodectic mange. The skin irritation is caused by the burrowing mites, which also release allergens and toxins into the skin. Constant scratching makes the skin susceptible to secondary infections with bacteria.

Although the areas of hair loss may lead the veterinarian to suspect sarcoptic mange, the final diagnosis is made by performing a skin scraping test. The skin is scraped in several areas to loosen cells and mites which are then examined microscopically. Because the mites are difficult to find, repeated scrapings are often indicated. Other tests may be performed to make sure the hair loss is not due to a cause other than mites.

Treatments may include dips or medications given by mouth or by injection. Treatments are usually given every two weeks until the symptoms have resolved and the pet tests negative for mites.

Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious among dogs. Infected dogs should be separated from other dogs until treatment is complete. Most other mammals, including humans, can be infected with a type of Sarcoptes, but the mite is different for each host. Mites from animals may get on people and cause itchiness for a few days, but will not actually cause an infection. However, until the pet is treated, mites may continue causing problems for their owners. People with skin irritations caused by canine scabies should consult their doctor for treatment to reduce the temporary itching sensation.

Cats do not get Sarcoptes, but have a similar disease caused by a different mite, Notoedres cati. It spreads easily among cats. Infected cats should receive prompt treatment and should be separated from other cats until treatment is complete. Like Sarcoptes, Notoedres does not cause scabies in people but may occasionally cause temporary, itchy skin lesions.

True scabies in people is always contracted from close contact with other people. Children, the elderly, and immunosuppressed individuals are at higher risk. Infection is usually the result of prolonged, direct contact between sexual partners or members of the same household. The organism can live for about 72 hours in the environment, so it is possible to spread scabies via sharing of unwashed clothing or bedding.

The video below show a case of severe sarcoptic mange in a stray dog.

Can Dogs Get Arthritis?

Did you know that dogs and cats can also develop arthritis in their joints?  Osteoarthritis is the most common type of disease in our pets and is frequently found in the hips, knees, shoulders, elbow and in the bones of the spine. Some arthritis can develop from a ligament rupture such as a torn cruciate in the knee or a knee cap that slips from the groove of the tibia. Hip dysplasia in dogs is the most common cause of arthritis of the hips. Early surgical correction of the knee and hips can help stave off the arthritis. Obesity, and congenital conditions can also contribute to arthritis formation. Old, large breed dogs, such as Labradors, can also get arthritis in their spine.

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by a malfunction of the dog’s immune system. The antibodies that normally protect the dog from foreign invaders incorrectly attacks the joints of the dog causing severe cartilage and bone deterioration. Blood tests can help identify rheumatoid arthritis. Auto-immune arthritis is treated with corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation.

Arthritis can also be caused by infections, either bacterial, fungus or viral. Leptospirosis and Lyme disease are common invaders that can cause arthritis. Septic arthritis is ususually treated with antibiotics.

Some dogs may not exhibit symptoms of arthritis until the disease is well advanced. Lameness, limping, difficulty in getting up, reluctance to jump or resisting walking can be signs of developing arthritis. Sometimes a loss of appetite, lethargy or other signs may also develop.

A trip to your veterinarian for an exam, blood tests and radiographs (x-rays) can help identify the problem. Surgical intervention can help with some cases of arthritis, especially of the knee, and hip. Arthroscopic surgeries and joint replacements are now common place at larger referral hospitals or Veterinary Universities. Rehabilitation with water treadmills are now available for our pets, too.

Some arthritis can be managed with anti-inflammatories, such as Rimadyl or other NSAIDS. Diagnostic blood work is recommended to monitor for possible affects on the internal organs.

Glucosamine and chondroitin may also be effective with arthritis by providing the basic components cartilage needs to repair itself. These supplements can be given as a chewy treat  (Joint support) or can be in prescription diets such as Hill’s j/d diet.

Your veterinarian can help advise you in a treatment plan to alleviate the pain in your pet and have a better quality of life.

Allergies in Dogs

From springtime through the late fall, many people are subject to seasonal allergies. But people are not the only ones suffering. For our dogs and cats, these same seasons can bring intense itching and discomfort. Yes, it seems our pets can get their own “hay fever”.

It’s a very frustrating and somewhat common situation. Pet owners by the millions flock to their veterinarians in the hope of relieving their pet’s itchiness. For many people, the constant chewing, licking, and scratching can test their love for their pets.

Current estimates show that about 20 million pets suffer from some sort of skin condition and many of these are allergies. Allergies are an over-reaction of the body’s immune system to a foreign substance, such as pollen or flea saliva. For people with allergies, we sneeze and sniffle as our bodies respond to histamine released by immune cells. These symptoms are due to the reaction of histamine with receptors in our nose and upper airways.

Our pets, however, react somewhat differently. Dogs and cats have many more histamine receptors in the skin and fewer in the nose. As histamine is released, the receptors cause an itchy feeling and the pet reacts by scratching at that site. Scratching can generate more histamine release, thereby causing more scratching. The constant assault on the skin by the pet’s claws can actually damage the skin, leading to bacterial infections. Areas of hair loss and oozing sores known as “hot spots” are very common with allergies.

Fleas are often found to be the reason for a pet’s itchiness. However, the pet who is truly allergic to fleas will often appear to have no fleas at all! Why? Because these pets are the ultimate flea catchers, doing everything in their power to bite or scratch the discomfort of the flea away. The flea’s saliva sets off an allergic reaction leading to a flurry of chewing and digging at the skin.

Allergies to airborne substances, such as pollen and mold spores, are another reason for itchiness in pets. This is known as atopy and affects many pets from springtime straight through until fall. This condition can be inherited in certain breeds.

If your pet has signs of allergies year round and you see little or no improvement with certain medications, you may have a pet that has food allergies. Contrary to popular belief, food allergies take time to develop and are not due to recent diet changes. Most pets who develop food allergies have been eating the offending food with little problem for years. Common food allergens can include any major protein or carbohydrate source in the pet’s food.

In some mild cases, the itchiness can be treated with anti-histamines or even steroids for a short period of time. However, pet owners need to be aware that allergies are not a condition that can be cured. The good news though, is that they can be well-managed with a team effort from the pet owner and the veterinary team.

Utilizing diagnostic tests such as blood testing and even skin allergy tests, veterinarians can often find ways to reduce the pet’s discomfort level. In some cases, your family veterinarian may refer you and your pet to a veterinary dermatologist. This specialist has many more diagnostic and treatment resources available to bring relief to your pet. In all cases, you, the pet owner, are a vital part of the team. It will be up to you to make sure that all pets in the household are treated for fleas or that your pet stays on the recommended hypo-allergenic diet and doesn’t sneak other treats!

Allergies are not only one of the most frequent reasons for a trip to the veterinarian, but are also a big reason for pet owners becoming frustrated with their pet. Working with your veterinary team to identify what is causing your pet’s symptoms will help keep your four-legged family member right where he needs to be…with you!

Can You Have Allergies And Still Have A Dog?

Many dog lovers simply do not have a pet due to allergies.  It isn’t the pet itself that causes the allergies, but the pet dander that most dogs and cats shed naturally that cause people to have allergic reactions.  Keeping your pet well-groomed may allow you to keep it in your home.

Some people are allergic to cats and cat dander and not to dogs, therefore they are able to tolerate dogs and not cats. Others, like my nephew, are allergic to dogs and not cats. My nephew loves dogs, he and his family actually have four outside dogs. Since the dogs do not live in the home he is able to maintain his allergies and still have a rewarding relationship with his dogs. But what if you live in town and cannot keep your pets outside? Some non shedding breeds of dogs such as Poodles or Portuguese Water Dogs seem to have less dander and are more easily tolerated by people with allergies. For example my sister had a Cocker Spaniel named Charlie that she dearly loved, but Charlie made her eyes and sinuses run; so sadly my sister had to find a new home for him.  A few years later she really wanted another dog and decided to try sharing her home with a pair of poodles. Sassy and Lucky are now a permanent part of her home and she can enjoy having a dog without the misery of allergies.

So it is possible to have a pet in your life and still control your allergies. With help with your doctor you can

Hypoallergenic Shampoos–Bath Your Pet And Reduce Allergies

Bathing your pet with a hypoallergenic shampoo can reduce your allergies. With many different hypoallergenic shampoos available on the market today, you are sure to find the right one for you and your pet. With all the shampoos available, let’s just take a minute to look at a few different kinds.

Allergroom is a good hypoallergenic shampoo that can be used on dogs or cats of any age. Allergroom is a restoring shampoo for dry or normal skin, and is soap-free. It has been tested safe to use with Advantage flea control as well.

DVM Tearless Shampoo is another soap free, hypoallergenic shampoo and like the name, it is tearless, meaning it won’t irritate your pet’s eyes.  It is gentle enough for pets of all ages.

Hair coats that need to be repaired may benefit from Douxo, a shampoo used for maintenance of the hair coat that both moisturizes and conditions the coats on both dogs and cats. This hypoallergenic shampoo has a nice green tea fragrance.

A shampoo using emollients for hydrating and proteins for conditioning is Calm Coat EFA. This shampoo provides essential fatty acids which nourish the skin, controlling the flaking and itching and is gentle enough on your pet to use often.

All of the above listed shampoos and many more hypoallergenic shampoos can be found at So the next time you bath your dog, why not use a hypoallergenic shampoo to cleanse him with, reducing your allergies and nourishing his hair coat as well.