Vaccination Programs for Puppies and Kittens

In my 30 years in veterinary practice I have had the opportunity to work in 20 different veterinary hospitals. Amazingly, in every practice, the clients, the staff, and, unfortunately some veterinarians did not understand kitten and puppy vaccination programs. They all thought that each vaccine was a booster to the previous and by the end of 16 weeks these babies were “super protected” and missing any vaccine was not life threatening. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would like to share …

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Cat Care & Health : Common House Cat Diseases

Common diseases in house cats include parasites that infect kittens, physical lesions from cat fights, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease and diabetes from old age. Find out what health issues to expect from a domestic cat withhelp from a practicing veterinarian in this free video on pet care. Expert: Robert Sidorsky, DVM Bio: Dr. Robert Sidorsky has been a practicing veterinarian for more than 25 years. Filmmaker: Christian Munoz-Donoso

Tips for Trimming your Pet’s Nails

Nail care is a vital part of your pet’s total health care. Because nails continuously grow and are not necessarily worn down as they could if they have been going for walks, in that case it is up to you to help in keeping them at a more comfortable length. Whenever nails are too long, this affects the manner a dog walks which may lead to inflammation of the joints later on in life. Additionally longer nails could possibly get snagged as well as torn, or on occasion curl back into the toe pad and may also cause an infection. Trimming nails is not that upsetting if you have the correct gear and have taught your dog to let you hold the paw.

The nail has a “quick” which houses the veins and nerves of the nail.The quick is easier to see in white nails. By trimming small amounts at any given time and trimming with the plane of the bottom part of the toe pad (horizontally rather than vertically) you can keep from cutting the nail to short as to make it bleed.

Here are a few additional guidelines to successfully cut your pet’s nails:

small nail trimmers

1. Get started while your pet is still a puppy or kitten by gradually holding their feet. Start by making a sport of it and examining the nails, chances are they will allow you to cut them when they grow older.

2. Decide a nail trimmer for the size and age of your pet. I will sometimes use a human toe nail trimmer for young pet’s nails since it can easily get to the tiny points a tad easier and they are generally sharper. As your kitten or puppy grows older, I may then switch nail trimmers to the scissor action style of trimmer as an alternative to the guillotine trimmer. I find that these stay sharper longer and are easier to use. The guillotine type some times catches the nails and doesn’t necessarily make a clean cut. Your veterinarian will help you choose a proper trimmer.

large dog nail trimmers

large dog nail trimmers

3. When you are trimming your pet’s nails, by no means undertake it when your pet is sitting in your lap. Enlist someone to aid you and set them on the counter or lid of the washer or dryer. You may wrap them with a bath towel to assist holding them even better. If your pet begins to fight, just try holding the paw until he calms. In the event you let go of the foot when your pet begins to protest, you are just encouraging the poor behavior and will make the next nail trim episode even more difficult. (Go back to number 1)

styptic power

Styptic Powder

4. Be well prepared. Have available styptic pencils like silver nitrate or Kwik stop powder. Be aware that the silver nitrate on the end of the sticks will stain counters and your skin in the event you get it on you. The styptic powders are better for beginners.

5. If your pet has light colored nails, you are able to see the pink portion of the quick. If your pet has darker nails, trim only a little at a time. I like to carefully press on the toe and extend the nail out. I then draw an imaginary line level with the bottom of the toe pad and extend it out across the nail. I then trim the nail at this imaginary line so that the nail is now level with the floor when the pet is standing.

6. You can use an emery board to smooth the rough edges.



7. Pedipaws or similar rotor drill sanders are helpful to smooth rough edges and to trim just a small amount of nail. If the nail is very long whatsoever, then it can take you forever to get it trimmed. You might use the drill to keep the nail shorter or for smoothing the nail after you have used the clippers. Your pet will also need to be taught not to be terrified of the motor, so it is advisable to proceed gradually while you each figure out how to control the drill.

With a little practice and a lot of patience, you may soon be trimming your pet’s nails with confidence. If all else fails, your veterinarian or groomer are there to help.

Ringworm in Cats

Ringworm is not a worm but a form of a microscopic  fungus that affects animals and humans. Technically called dermatophytosis or dermatomycosis, the name ringworm was given because the ringworm lesion on people sometimes appears as a reddish circular area surrounding a crusty spot and it was once thought to be caused by a worm.

Ringworm is caused by many different species of fungus that can be picked in the environment or from other infected animals.  The most common species of  ringworm is caused by Microsporum Canis. The lesions can vary in appearance from patchy hair loss, to crusty spots to no signs at all.

Ringworm in your cat can sometimes be diagnosed with a woodslight (ultra violet light or blacklight). The fungus growing on the hair shafts will glow a lime green color when exposed to the light. Sometimes, the fungus cannot be detected by the light and special fungal cultures will have to be done. If there are lesions on the cat, a few hairs and crusts are placed on a special culture media to promote the growth of the fungus. If no lesions can be found and the owner suspects a cat for giving ringworm to the family, a sterile toothbrush is used to catch any loose hair and then the hair is placed on the culture media.


Anywhere from a few days to 2 weeks, if there was a fungus present it will grow on the media much like bread mold on old bread. The fungus also will turn the media a reddish color if it is M. Canis. The spores on the media are then microscopically examined with a special stain to verify the species of the fungus and to be certain it was not just an environmental contaminant.

If ringworm is verified on the cat or kitten, medicated shampoos can be used to help control the ringworm. Treatment is done for 6 to 8 weeks . Oral anti-fungal medications can also be used if the ringworm is generalized.  To avoid contaminating the environment with further spores, sometimes the cat will be shaved.

Most people do not get ringworm from their pet, but from the environment. The fungal spores are present at swimming pools, parks and anywhere where people congregate. If a pet is diagnosed with ringworm, treatment by medications will hasten recovery and further exposure to people and pets can be limited by environmental clean-up. If you have multiple cats in a household with the ringworm, clean-up will prove to be challenging.

  • All contaminated toys, food bowls, blankets, cages, scratching posts, bedding should be removed.
  • Any item that cannot be disinfected should be discarded or destroyed.
  • All items that can be washed should be washed with an anti-fungal soap, rinsed and then soaked in diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 30 parts water) for 10 minutes, and then repeated 3 more times.
  • Rooms should be cleaned including walls, ceilings, furnace vents, filters, under furniture, beds and refrigerators.
  • All surfaces should be vacuumed, scrubbed and bleached.
  • Change furnace and AC filters weekly.
  • Clean the ducts and vents with a commercial duct cleaner.
  • Rugs should be washed with an anti-fungal soap. Steam cleaning alone is not reliable, add a disinfectant to the solution to kill the fungal spores in your carpets.
  • Quarantine affected cats until the ringworm is gone.

Traveling with Your Cat

Traveling with your cat

At some point in most pet owners lives, it becomes necessary to travel with your pet. Unfortunately for cat owners, most cats are not inclined to enjoy the travel experience. This handout will explain some tips for keeping your cat comfortable and helping them tolerate the travel experience.

Cats tend to naturally be highly territorial animals. Unfortunately, most travel destinations do not tend to lend themselves to be known and comfortable territory for your cat. On top of introducing them to new surroundings upon arrival, your pet has likely also been confined in a travel carrier for the trip. This confinement may also be stressful to your pet as many cats do not like to be confined to small and non-familiar spaces. This combination of lack of familiarity with their surroundings and control over their surroundings tends to make travel an overall stressful experience.

Your cat may come to tolerate the travel experience with time. However, unless a cat was introduced to travel as a kitten, it may never come to enjoy excursions away from its familiar territory. In order to lessen the stress during a big trip and prepare your cat for the travel experience it may be helpful to practice some of the following tips:

  • Introduce your pet to their carrier in familiar and comfortable territory. This will help combat the negative association that your cat may have developed by linking the carrier to undesirable outcomes, such as the vet or kennel.
  • Make the carrier as familiar and friendly as possible. Line the carrier with a favorite blanket and include a special treat or toy to entice your cat to spend time inside.
  • Introduce your pet to short, frequent car trips with pleasurable destinations.
  • Include treats, toys or other special items to ensure that your cat associates positive experiences with the travel excursions.

Choosing an appropriate travel carrier will play a large role in how comfortable both you and your cat are with traveling. Aspects of the carrier should be chosen with the animals comfort, your ease of transport and any outside regulations, such as the airlines, in mind. Some things to consider for your comfort are the way the cat is put into the carrier, such as top, side or front entry and whether the carrier has soft or hard sides. The ease of cleaning should also be considered. Most plastic shell and wire mesh carriers are easy to wipe clean, whereas, some cloth luggage-type carriers require machine washing. It is also ideal for the carrier to have a separate bottom tray to hold an absorbent pad to keep fecal matter away from your pet. If your cat prefers to be hidden from view, then a covered, enclosed carrier would be ideal. Whereas if your cat prefers to view what is happening around them, then perhaps a wire mesh carrier would suit.

girl with cat

However, before purchasing any carrier, check with your preferred mode of travel and accommodations to make sure that your ideal carrier also fits their guidelines and regulations. Some general guidelines to follow for purchasing a carrier to be used on an aircraft are that the walls of the carrier should have adequate ventilation (preferably three sides); the walls of the carrier should be strong enough to prevent it from being crushed; the carrier must have sturdy handles; an attached water bowl must be present and the cage should allow the animal to stand up and turn around easily.

Basic Tips for Airline Travel with Your Cat:

  • Determine all airline regulations for acclimation, carrier specifications, baggage liability, and vaccination records several weeks prior to flying. Bring all pertinent veterinary records and other documentation to the airport with you to avoid delays.
  • Schedule a direct flight if possible. This will minimize the chances of a delay and of your pet having to wait in inclimate weather to be loaded into cargo.
  • Have your cat examined by its veterinarian before the trip to determine its suitability to fly. Your veterinarian may recommend a mild sedative for cats that may be overly stressed during their travel.
  • Some airlines will allow passengers to travel with small pets in coach and first class. Inquire as to this possibility and the regulations well before arriving at the airport.
  • Make sure that your pets carrier is well marked with permanent identification, including your contact information, flight number, destination and destination contact information.
  • Consider in advance all food, water and medication that you may need for your cat and be sure to pack it in an easily accessible location.

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