Identifying Common Issues With Your Pet (And How Our Local Animal Hospital Can Help)
Cat or dog ownership is now more popular than ever before. It’s true that folks have welcomed another friend into their household for many, many years — sheep and goats were domesticated some 11,000 years ago, with cats entering the pet scene around 7,000 B.C. It’s even estimated that dogs were domesticated roughly 15,000 years ago.
While having a cat, dog, reptile, fish, bird, horse, or any combination of these pets is far from new, pet ownership is on the rise compared to a few decades ago. The Insurance Information Institute reports that about 68 percent of U.S. households (85 million families) own at least one pet. This is up 10 percent from 1988, when 56 percent of U.S. households owned a pet. These numbers were polled from the National Pet Owners Survey, conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA).
As a result of this pet-owning popularity, the market for cat and dog-related products has absolutely exploded. Nowadays, organic treats are standard, doggie hotels are more plush than ever before, and non-toxic water and food bowls are all the rage. The simple fact of the matter is that people love their pets like they’re family — as they should — and they’re willing to take care of them at a premium.
But ultra-plush dog beds and fancy cat food aside, there’s something that’s more integral to your pet’s health and wellbeing more than anything else: quality veterinary care. It’s incredibly important to find a local animal hospital that you can trust wholeheartedly, knowing that your best friend is in good hands whether they’re in for an unfortunate emergency visit or a simple, routine checkup.
With longstanding roots in the greater Washington, D.C. and Baltimore areas, Goshen Animal Clinic is proud to serve pet owners with our comprehensive veterinary services. From Gaithersburg to Rockville, Bethesda, and beyond, we’ll take care of your cat or dog in the way of:
- Comprehensive physical examinations
- Dental care
- Soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries
- Diagnostic laboratory testing
- Colder laser therapy
- Digital radiography and ultrasound
- And more!
Below, our local animal hospital in Gaithersburg will touch on some of the most common health issues that cats and dogs experience. It’s not any fun to see your pet experience these health problems, but having this knowledge means that you’ll know exactly when to take them in to see our animal hospital.
To make an appointment or reach out to our Gaithersburg veterinarians about an urgent matter, please contact us at 301-977-5586. Let’s get started.
In and of itself, vomiting isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it’s the body’s natural reaction to expel something foreign from the stomach. However, it’s definitely worth noting that excessive vomiting from your cat is problematic.
When you notice repeated abdominal heaving or drooling before or after vomiting, it’s likely because your cat ate something inedible, poisonous, or is just hacking up a hairball. While coughing up a hairball or two isn’t too out of the ordinary for most cats, excessive vomiting warrants a visit to our veterinary hospital in Gaithersburg due to the increased risk of dehydration.
As gross as this sounds, it is generally considered beneficial to collect a small sample of your cat’s vomit and take it with you when you visit our veterinarians.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases (FLUTD)
Though this urinary tract disease is pretty rare in most cats (estimates say that about 3 percent of cats seen by vets have it), FLUTD is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. If your cat can’t urinate, or is exhibiting clear signs of pain or discomfort while attempting to do so, then it’s entirely possible that they could have a urinary tract issue.
Here are a few common indicators of potential Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease:
- Bloody urine
- Crying (meowing) while urinating
- Urinating in strange or unusual places
- Straining to urinate
- Licking around the urinary area due to pain
If your cat is displaying any of these signs when they attempt to urinate, it’s a good idea to play it safe and bring them into Goshen Animal Clinic.
Yes, cats can get fleas, too — in fact, it’s actually a fairly common external feline health problem. Fortunately, it’s also a problem that’s easily treatable. It’s just important that you do bring them in for treatment if you notice any telltale flea infestation signs, as cats can risk anemia when a flea problem becomes prolonged and serious.
Here’s what you should look out for:
- Constant, excessive scratching
- Frequent licking, often in unusual areas
- Irritated or red skin
- Unnatural hair loss
- “Flea dirt” present on skin (tiny black dots to the naked eye)
There are multiple flea control options available including powders, foams, topical applications, and oral medication. Your veterinarian at our local animal hospital in Gaithersburg will help you determine what the safest and most effective course of action is.
Though tapeworms aren’t so apparent on the outside, these small intestine invaders actually constitute one of the most common health issues for cats. Many tapeworms can grow as long as two feet (shudder), but you’re not likely to see a full tapeworm. Generally, tapeworms are segmented and broken apart when they are expelled.
Tapeworms can cause major digestive tract issues if left untreated. Tapeworm infection symptoms typically include vomiting and rapid weight loss (despite your cat eating the same amount of food). If you see any small, white worms with the appearance of a grain of rice or sesame seed in your cat’s feces or bedding, they probably have tapeworms.
Cats generally contract tapeworms by swallowing a flea, so flea infestations and the presence of tapeworms generally go hand in hand.
Excessive…meowing? Yes, meowing. An overly vocal cat probably doesn’t warrant an immediate visit to our local animal hospital, but their string of feline expletives could mean that they’re trying to tell you something important. It’s generally understood that cats communicate with other cats by yowling, hissing, and growling with each other, so if they’re meowing, it’s intended toward you or another human.
The extent of your cat’s talkativeness also depends on their breed — for instance, Siamese cats are known for being great “conversationalists”, if you will.
Here are some of the most common reasons that cats tend to meow at their owners:
- They’re feeling ill or expressing pain: naturally, this warrants a trip to the vet.
- They’re seeking attention: contrary to popular belief, many cats don’t like to be alone for long periods of time.
- They’re hungry or thirsty: the solution to this one is pretty self-explanatory.
- They’re greeting you: chances are, your cat is just happy to see you.
- They’re stressed: moving to a new place, or getting a new pet can exacerbate your cat’s stress levels.
- They’re in heat: if your cat hasn’t been spayed or neutered, they’re likely wanting to mate. Make sure that our local animal hospital in Gaithersburg has taken care of this issue.
In any case, your cat meowing can be very amusing and cute, but persistent meowing could mean that they’re trying to tell you something serious. Always pay attention to what your cat is attempting to communicate.
If you’ve noticed that your dog is frequently shaking their head or scratching their ears, there’s a good chance that they could have an ear infection. Visible ear discharge or debris may also be present. The severity of canine ear infections varies, but it’s a fairly common health complication that’s also very treatable. Pay close attention to your dog exhibiting any signs of an ear infection, however, as untreated ear infections can cause serious damage.
More often than not, you can prevent ear infections from occurring by routinely cleaning your dog’s ears.
Not unlike cats, many dogs also struggle with the presence of fleas — except with dogs, it’s even easier for them to pick them up. According to WebMD, it takes only three weeks for a single flea to multiply into 1,000+ little buggers. If you notice any of the following with your dog, bring them into our local animal hospital in Gaithersburg:
- Excessive scratching, licking, or biting at their skin
- Unnatural hair loss
- Hot spots (red spots)
- Allergic dermatitis
- Tapeworms (usually carried by fleas, going hand in hand)
- “Flea dirt” (small black dots against their skin)
The presence of fleas will make your dog very uncomfortable, often to the point of where they cannot sleep. More seriously, an untreated flea infestation can lead to allergic reactions, infections, and anemia due to blood loss. Our veterinarians in Gaithersburg will help find your dog the right treatment.
Toxicity And Poisoning
Perhaps the most common reason for an emergency vet visit (for dogs) is because they’ve ingested something that they shouldn’t have eaten. Chocolate is probably the most well-known canine poison, but there are many different foods (and non-edible items) that could lead your dog to getting their stomach pumped.
No owner wants their best friend to go through such a harrowing and immediately life-threatening experience, so make sure that you’re properly locking up your food, medications, household cleaners, or simply anything that your curious pup may try and eat.
Similar to people, dogs are subjected to inflamed joints as they advance in age. Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease, is the most common form of arthritis. Again, this unfortunate degradation of the joints typically takes place as dogs (and their human owners) get older, but DJD can also surface as a result of old injuries.
Unfortunately, there is no clear cut way to outright cure osteoarthritis, but there are multiple ways to treat it. It’s true that maladies like hip dysplasia can be cured with surgery, but other forms of general treatment exist to make life easier and more comfortable for your aging dog. These include a variety of medications, joint supplements, physical therapy for dogs (seriously!), and other alternative therapies such as veterinary acupuncture.
Your dog’s case of arthritis will be treated on an individual, case-by-case basis by our veterinarians in Gaithersburg.
If your dog’s breath smells particularly bad, it may be a lot worse than your average case of “dog breath” — in fact, your dog’s breath actually shouldn’t smell that bad. Built up plaque and tartar on your dog’s teeth, just like for us humans, can cause major damage to their teeth and gums. The bacteria from periodontal disease can even enter their bloodstream, eventually resulting in serious and/or life-threatening complications such as heart disease and even kidney failure.
The best way to prevent periodontal disease (again, just like for people) is through regular cleanings. Cleaning dog’s teeth typically involves anesthesia, but even though it’s a commitment that’s no fun for anyone involved, it’s a necessary procedure to maintain your dog’s health. Our local animal hospital in Gaithersburg is proud to offer dental for dogs.
Take Advantage Of Our Pet Health Library!
Goshen Animal Clinic is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of your pet. That’s a common goal between our veterinarians and pet owners, and that’s why we provide reliable, up-to-date, and easily accessible information about anything pet health-related.
- Alternative therapies
- Emergency situations
- Infectious diseases
- And more!
All too often, it’s easy to confuse or scare yourself by reading misinformation online. Our pet health library is designed to provide pet owners with accurate and unbiased information to help guide your decisions and, ultimately, improve the quality of living for you and your pet!
Schedule An Appointment At Our Local Animal Hospital In Gaithersburg
If it’s time for a regular checkup for your pet or if you’ve noticed your pet exhibiting any of the strange behavior or symptoms that we’ve described above, then it’s time to visit Goshen Animal Clinic. Schedule an appointment, learn more about our special offers, promotions, and rescue and foster discounts, or get in touch with our team with any questions.