Blog - Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in College Station, Texas Blog - Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in College Station, Texas

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Caring for Older Pets

Pets are more than just our companions—they are a part of the family. As your pet ages, it is important to consult your veterinarian for help providing the proper care for your senior pet’s changing needs. Every animal is different, so the senior life stage occurs at different ages in different pets. For instance, dogs are typically considered seniors at seven years old, but older dogs age quicker than smaller dogs. Cats can be considered mature at 7 years and seniors at 11 years old. Breed and species aside, your pet’s genetics, nutrition, health, and environment will ultimately determine when your pet is considered a senior. One of the telltale signs of increasing age in pets is a decline in physical activity. For instance, previously active pets may not play as much and both dogs and cats may need assistance climbing on and off the bed or couch. Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary M...

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Exotic, Domesticated, and Wild Pets

Although the words “exotic” and “wild” are frequently used interchangeably, many people do not fully understand how these categories differ when it comes to pets. It is important to understand the difference between wild and exotic animals and the requirements and responsibilities of owning such animals as pets. According to Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, a wild or exotic animal is anything that is not one of seven domesticated species: dogs, cats, horses, pigs, cows, sheep, or goats. In addition, there is an important distinction between wild and exotic animals. “A wild animal is an indigenous, non-domesticated animal, meaning that it is native to the country where you are located,” Blue-McLendon explained. “For Texans, White-tailed deer, pronghorn sheep, raccoons, skunks, and bighorn sheep are wild animals. The important difference is ...

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Parrots as Pets

Parrots are unique, complex, and entertaining birds. They are smart, can learn tricks, and provide excellent companionship for some people. Parrots have become increasingly popular as pets in the United States, but it is important to recognize the responsibility involved with caring for a parrot. Parrots come in hundreds of species. Therefore, pet owners should be careful not to make generalizations about the physical, nutritional, and emotional needs of parrots. Body type, feather pattern, personality, and diet are just a few of the potential differences between different species of parrots. It is important for potential parrot owners to understand their particular parrot species and their individual parrot’s personality. According to Dr. Ian Tizard, distinguished professor and director of the Shubot Exotic Bird Health Center at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, well-trained parrots make good pet...

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Kennel Cough in Dogs

Like humans, dogs can experience a noisy, dry cough caused by an irritated throat. However, persistent coughing paired with a fever, nasal or ocular discharge, or loss of voice may be symptoms of a more serious condition, such as kennel cough. Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, or kennel cough, can develop in dogs when they inhale bacterial or viral particles into their respiratory tract. Mucus coating the respiratory tract normally collects these infectious particles, but several factors can weaken this protection and expose dogs to viruses and bacteria that may cause kennel cough. Dr. Brad Bennett, lecturer at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained the basics of kennel cough. “Kennel cough is a respiratory disease classified by an infection in the throat caused by inhaling bacteria, coming into contact with viruses, or both,” Bennett said. “Kennel cough is usually illustrated by inflammation...

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Treating and Preventing Fleas

When dog and cat owners notice their pet excessively scratching, biting, and licking, many of them associate these signs with fleas. With so many products on the market for flea treatment and prevention, finding the right product to treat your pet and house can be both intimidating and confusing. Controlling fleas is a multi-step process and often involves assistance from your veterinarian, especially in severe cases. For every flea an owner finds on their pet, it is likely that many other immature flea life stages, such as eggs, larvae, and cocoons, are in the pet owner’s home and yard. Thus, an efficient flea treatment and prevention plan includes caring for both the pet and the pet’s environment. However, it is important to note that no flea treatment plan shows immediate results, so it is important for pet owners to be patient and continue routine care for flea prevention. Dr. Adam Patterson, clinical assistant professor and chief o...

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Equine Lameness

Equine lameness affects all types horses—whether they are ridden for pleasure, racing, or sport. Lameness, a health condition that affects a horse’s gait, is the most costly health problem in the equine industry in regards to the price of medical treatment and for time lost to rest. Dr. Ashlee Watts, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained what equine lameness is and how it happens. “Lameness is limping in the horse,” she said. “Sometimes the limping can be so subtle that it is difficult or impossible to see and sometimes it is very obvious. Lameness usually happens because of a problem with the musculoskeletal system in a limb, such as arthritis in a joint; however, it can also occur because of neck or back pain.” Orthopedic injuries, or injuries that directly affect the musculoskeletal system, are the most common cause of equine lameness and include any damage to the h...

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Preventing Diabetes in Dogs

Diabetes mellitus, also called sugar diabetes, is becoming more prevalent in today’s society. Like humans, dogs can develop diabetes and may need medical care throughout their lifetime to manage the disease. Diabetes mellitus is characterized by a lack or relative deficiency of a hormone called insulin. This hormone is produced by the pancreas and is needed to store energy from food and to use glucose for fuel. Dr. Audrey Cook, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained how an insulin deficiency can negatively affect a dog’s health. “In people, the two most common forms of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2,” she said. “Type 1 diabetics do not make insulin at all and will need insulin injections for life. This is typically the type of diabetes that we see in dogs. In some cases, chronic inflammation of the pancreas—called pancreatitis—can gradually destroy cells that produce i...

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

Like humans, it is normal for dogs to experience the occasional upset stomach, or episode of diarrhea, but experiencing severe symptoms, such as bloody stools, may be a sign of something more serious. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) refers to a group of gastrointestinal diseases that result in the inflammation of the intestines. The exact cause of IBD in dogs is unknown, but bacteria and nutrients normally found in the intestine are thought to be the cause of the abnormal immune response that causes inflammation. Dr. Jonathan Lidbury, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained IBD’s potential causes. “IBD is a syndrome that is characterized by chronic intestinal inflammation in dogs,” Lidbury said. “The cause of IBD in dogs is not fully known, but recent research has provided some important clues. Basically, there is a loss of tolerance in the dog’s intestinal immune syste...

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Ear Infections in Dogs

Many dog owners have witnessed their pet excessively scratching their ears or rubbing their head on a hard surface. Some owners may even notice redness, swelling, or odor in their dog’s ear canal. Although we may do everything we can to keep our dogs clean, these common signs could be a result of a canine ear infection. According to Dr. Alison Diesel, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, canine ear infections are common and can be caused by multiple factors. “There are several contributing factors associated with the development of ear infections in dogs,” she said. “Some factors, such as excess hair in the ear canals, excess wax production, and increased moisture, can contribute to the development of ear infections; however, they do not solely cause the infection. There is generally an underlying cause, such as parasites, allergies, or foreign bodies. Other causes includ...

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Socializing your Puppy

Many dog owners have heard that socializing their puppy is important, but many do not know where to begin. It is important to show your puppy that not all people and animals pose a threat. Exposing your puppy to the world through proper socialization will help them develop into a social, obedient, and confident dog. The most critical socialization time for your puppy is between two and 12 weeks of age. During this time, it is important to expose your puppy to a variety of people, animals, and situations. Allowing your pet to experience these things early in life will prevent fear and aggression in the future. It will also promote your puppy’s obedience in critical scenarios. A puppy who trusts their owner that there is nothing to fear will more likely obey their owner without hesitation. Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained why it is importa...

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