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the poo germClostridium is a strain of bacteria, which can sometimes be harmful. The two most common strains are clostridium perfingens, and clostridium difficile (also known as C-Diff). These bacteria can be found in raw meats, rotten foods, feces, marine sediment (like standing water), decaying vegetation, and trash. They are also both found in humans as well as animals, and are often present in the body without symptoms. The immune system passes them and combats any ill effects on its own, and no harm is done. However, sometimes the bacteria can lodge in the intestine, where they produce large amounts of endospores. When levels become too high, clostridial enterotoxicosis can occur, causing illness and other problems.

When a pet suffers from clostridial enterotoxicosis (sometimes just referred to as clostridium), the symptoms and severity can vary widely. In dogs, the most common signs are repeated diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps (seen by aversion to food, contact or movement), fever, blood in the stool, lethargy, and gas. It is less common in cats, but can be seen in diarrhea with mucus (will be shiny), or vomiting. Clostridium symptoms can be acute, and over in less than a week, or recur frequently, appearing for a few days every few weeks. Often it is harder for cats to get rid of, due to litter and their frequent grooming (licking feet, etc). These symptoms however, can mimic that of a parasite or other health problem, so your pet will need to be tested at a vet. They are usually diagnosed with a fecal sample, and blood tests may be done to check for other problems (immune system problems, vitamin deficiencies, etc). Clostridium is treated with antibiotics, and sometimes a high-fiber or probiotic diet. In animals that have other health problems, or severe cases, more aggressive therapy may be needed (IV fluids, vet stay, etc). While a pet is being treated, they should be isolated from public areas, and their feces handled with caution. The bacteria can be transmitted to humans, and can cause illness in the young, elderly, immune-compromised, or ill. Bag and dispose of all bowel movements immediately, and then wash your hands. Use appropriate sanitizing agents on litter boxes and area where feces has been (some antibacterial wipes do not kill C-Diff, so check the label).

The best way to deal with clostridial enterotoxicosis is to take steps to prevent it. Provide your animal with a consistent routine and feeding schedule. Sometimes a change in diet or daily activities can cause stress on a pet, which reduces their ability to fight off bacteria on their own. Keep them away from other sick animals. Keep their food and water indoors, and if it must be outside, put it on a raised surface (not the ground). Do not allow your dog or cat to drink from puddles, lakes, ponds, etc, and keep them supervised in such an environment. Clean up feces properly, do not let them eat it (this includes the dog finding a snack in the cat’s litter box)! And most importantly, take your pets in for regular checkups. If they are healthy in other areas, they will be more likely to pass the clostridia on their own without any symptoms.

A simple little bacterium can be passed out of the body without any problems, or can cause severe illness and gastrointestinal distress in an animal. Always monitor your pet for signs of illness, and contact your vet if you suspect clostridial enterotoxicosis or another problem.

Sources: VetInfo, PetMD

wildlifeblogWe know where to take our cats, dogs, and other domesticated pets when they get sick or injured. But what do you do if you see one in the wild? When is the right time to assist an animal, or leave it alone? And where do you turn to for its medical care? While every situation is different, here are some basics for helping wildlife and their young.

As a general rule, wild animals don’t usually need our help. Only consider assisting an animal for the following reasons: your pet brings it to you, it has been attacked or has obvious bleeding, there is a dead parent animal nearby, it has an obvious broken limb, it is repeatedly shivering or vomiting, or has been unable to move from the same spot on ground for over 24 hours (not including nests or dens). If an animal exhibits these signs, it is time to get assistance for them. Your first contact should probably be a wildlife rehabilitation center. For those of you in the West Michigan area, there are several . The Lowell Wildlife Center (Lowell), Blandford Nature Center (Grand Rapids), Wildlife Rehab Center (Grand Rapids), and Wild Rescue and Rehab Foundation (Hastings) are just a few to name. For a complete list of the licensed wildlife care centers and their specialties, visit http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/ (not in Michigan, click here for more states: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator.html). The wildlife rehab center should be able to direct you on what to do next, whether that includes, care, transportation, or nothing at all. If you are unable to reach a wildlife care facility, you can try calling a local humane society or veterinary office, but they may not be prepared to deal with certain wild animals. Be sure to note the time, condition, and exact location where you spotted the injured animal. If you are required to transport the creature, or contain them until transport arrives, be sure to wear gloves and avoid touching the animal any more than necessary. You can use a blanket or towel to handle them, and keep them in a place that is dark and quiet. Make sure any box is secured and has air holes. Avoid too much heat, cold, noise, or light. Do not try to feed, water, or bathe the animal unless instructed to do so. After any animal contact, be sure to wash hands thoroughly and disinfect any materials used.wildlifeblog1

But what about those adorable baby animals? They sometimes cannot defend themselves, or find food and shelter. If you find a young animal, what to do depends on the type and age of the creature. Here are a few common ones for our area.

Squirrels: Baby squirrels often fall out of their nest and are retrieved by their mothers within a few hours. If you see one on the ground, leave it alone unless it looks severely malnourished or injured. If the mother does not return within 8 hours, contact a wildlife rehab center, and keep the squirrel warm (without bathing, try a heating pad under a towel).

Deer: Fawns are often left alone by their mothers for hours at a time, to avoid attracting predators. If you must handle a small deer, (they are prone to getting caught in fences, or wandering into yards) you do not want to leave your scent. Rub a towel in the grass, then use it to free or assist the fawn. If the deer is laying on its side, crying, or wandering without a mother, call a wildlife rehab center.

Foxes: Fox litters are also left alone for most of the day, while their mother hunts. She returns to the den a few times a day to feed and check on her babies, but rarely will a fox kit need care. If one does wander out of the den, the mother usually finds and returns it quickly. Unless the foxes have been unsupervised for over 24 hours, or are obviously ill, leave them alone.

Skunks: Young skunks have poor eyesight, and rely on their mother to guide them. They are rarely alone. You may see one baby wandering, or a line of them walking nose-to-tail. Place an overturned laundry basket over the skunks and wait to see if the mother returns. If she does, you will need to remove the basket. Move softly and slowly so the mother does not spray. If she begins to stamp her front paws, that is a warning sign. If the mother does not return within a few hours, call a wildlife rehab facility.

Possums: Baby possums are born very small and rely on their mother. When they are around 3-4 inches long, they begin to ride around on their mother’s back, and can easily fall off. If you find a small possum, the general rule of thumb is 7 inches in length (not including the tail). If they are at least this big, they will be okay on their own. If smaller, then wrap them up in a towel or blanket to keep it warm, and call a wildlife rehab center.

Raccoons: This is another animal that is closely monitored and cared for by its mother. If you find a baby raccoon, place an overturned laundry basket (with a light weight on top) over it to contain him. If the mother does not return within a few hours, call a wildlife rehab center.

Rabbits: Mother rabbits come and go from their nests several times a day. If a baby rabbit is at least 4 inches long with open eyes, they are old enough to live independently. If you suspect a nest of younger rabbits has been abandoned, do not touch the babies. Cover with natural materials (grass, leaves, etc) and use two sticks to create an “X” shape. Check the “X” after 24 hours. If it has been disturbed, the mother is still returning to care for her young. If it has not, she may have been killed or injured, and a wildlife rehab facility should be contacted.

By knowing what steps to take to care for injured or young animals, and when to take them, we can help the nature around us live successfully. Connect with a wildlife care center in your area today!

Sources: ASPCA, HSUS, Mercola Healthy Pets, MI DNR

04082015blogpic1We have all seen our dogs “wink” at us, whether one eye is avoiding dust, or has some crusties in it. But when your pet’s eye seems to disappear back into its head, the time for concern has come. Horner’s Syndrome is a neurological disorder of the eye and face, and often comes on suddenly. It can be found in many mammals, including cats and humans, but is often seen in dogs, especially golden retrievers or cocker spaniels.

The nervous system has two branches: the sympathetic (“fight or flight” response) system and parasympathetic (“rest and digest” response) system. Horner’s Syndrome is a dysfunction of the sympathetic nerves of the eyes and surrounding facial muscles, causing the parasympathetic nerves to take over. It can be caused by an injury, tumor, spinal cord or brain disease, or inner ear problems. Sometimes Horner’s can also be idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown. Symptoms of Horner’s Syndrome include the following on the affected side: droop of eyelid (ptosis), constricted pupil (miosis), sunken eye appearance, red and raised third eyelid (on bottom of eye), red and/or warm ear or face. Other diseases and problems can also cause protrusion of the third eyelid, so look for multiple symptoms. Sometimes an animal’s eating can also be affected, if they are having trouble with their facial muscles as well.

If you observe any of those symptoms in your pet, see your veterinarian. To diagnose Horner’s Syndrome,04082015blog they will perform a couple of tests. X-rays and blood draws are most common, but other imaging (CT or MRI) may be necessary, as well as urine and spinal fluid samples. The treatment of Horner’s is really the treatment of the underlying cause or disease. For example, a severe ear infection disturbing the sympathetic nerves would be treated with antibiotics, while a tumor may require surgery. Horner’s symptoms often resolve spontaneously on their own, but can take up to several weeks. Sometimes eye drops are given in the affected eye 1-2 times a day, which helps the pupil return to normal. Horner’s Syndrome in itself is not fatal to your pet, but it can be a sign of a larger problem in their nervous system. So when your dog’s eyeball seems to have shrank into his brain, don’t panic, just make an appointment with the vet. And wink back at them! J

Sources: VCA Hospitals, Healthy Pets/Mercola, PetMD, www.peteducation.com

 

weddingblog1Whether we consider our pets as our first loves or a lovable fur-child, they are definitely a member of the family. So it only makes sense that many couples are choosing to include them in their wedding photos, ceremonies, and more! There are many ways to include your animals in your big day, from just having them present for photos, to making them a ring bearer or a part of the vows. However, who is going to transport, care for, and watch your pet during the festivities? This is where Pet-Agree comes in! You and your guests deserve a stress-free time to enjoy the wedding, so let us chaperone your furry family to the wedding.

We pick up your pet from your home and transport them to the location, making sure that they’ve gotten plenty of exercise ahead of time. Pet-Agree will supervise your pet between photos and weddingblog3activities, ensuring that they get enough water, potty breaks, and rest. This can include taking breaks away from loud or busy areas, keeping them away from guests, food, certain areas, escorting them to photos, and more. When their role is complete, we will transport them back home where they are comfortable (we can also include a pet-sitting package for while you are on the honeymoon!) Why ask a guest to take time away from the festivities to take the dog outside, or make a cat sit in a carrier while you prepare for the wedding? If your pet is well-supervised, calm and cared for, they will enjoy your special day and make things easier for you too!

Our pets are family to us, so why not include them in your big day? So if you’re planning a wedding that includes your animals, make sure you’ve got Pet-Agree there to help!

Photo Credits: Tracey Buyce Photography, Melissa Rae Photography, Matt Buedel

Sources: HuffPost, Buzzfeed, Pet-Agree, LLC

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