Our pets develop many of the same serious diseases as we do, including cancer. In fact, it is the leading cause of death for both dogs and cats. Cancer is especially prevalent in companion animals over 10 years old. In a recent report, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) reported that one-third of senior cats and one-half of senior dogs succumb to cancer every year. Because our pets can’t tell us that something is wrong and are masters at disguising pain, a cancer diagnosis often throws pet parents completely off-guard. 
It is important for every pet owner to recognize the symptoms of cancer, especially those with older dogs and cats. We encourage you to schedule an appointment at Battletown Animal Clinic as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms: 
  • Unusual fatigue that can’t be explained by age or other illness 
  • Walking with a limp or stiff gait 
  • Offensive or unusual body odor 
  • Open sores that don’t seem to heal on their own 
  • Swelling on any area of the body 
  • Eliminating appears painful or difficult 
  • Marked decrease in appetite 
  • Bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, or anus 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Vomiting or gagging from inability to chew food 
Keep in mind that having one or even several of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that your pet has cancer. However, having the symptoms checked as soon as possible means that we can get started on a treatment protocol whether it is cancer or not. As the statistics from AMVA show, dogs develop cancer more often than cats do. However, the progression of the disease tends to be more aggressive in cats. Since they are even more adept than dogs at hiding their pain, keeping an eye out for an unusual symptom is essential.

Top Five Cancer Types in Dogs and Cats
Knowing which types of cancer is most common for your pet’s species makes it easier to look for signs of trouble. The most prevalent types of cancer for dogs are: 

  • Mast cell tumor: These are normally found in a dog’s connective tissues. 
  • Melanoma: Melanoma is a serious cancer of the skin. 
  • Lymphoma: Tumors of the lymphoid tissues can be found in the spleen, liver, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and gastrointestinal tract. 
  • Bone Cancer: This is more prevalent in larger dog breeds, although any dog can develop it. 
  • Hemangiosarcoma: Tumors can develop anywhere in the body and are especially common in the spleen or heart. 
 The most common cat cancers include:  
  • Lymphoma 
  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV): This was the leading cause of lymphoma until the vaccine for it became routine. FeLV causes dozens of potential health issues in addition to tumors. 
  • Mammary Gland: Spaying female cats before their first heat cycle dramatically decreases the risk of this type of cancer. 
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type of skin cancer typically appears on the eyes, ears, or hairless area around the nose. 
  • Fibrosarcoma: These aggressive tumors develop in a cat’s fibrous connective tissues. 
 In addition to your watchful eye, coming in for regular preventive care at our clinic is the best way to spot signs of cancer. 

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While you’re excited about seeing relatives and enjoying a delicious meal together this Thanksgiving, the change in routine can be especially stressful for your pet. This starts with the numerous strangers in the house, some of whom may have no idea how to treat a dog or cat appropriately. Then there is the amazing smells and mouth-watering food. Unfortunately from your pet’s perspective, the turkey, stuffing, pie, and other tasty treats are for the people and not for her. 

To avoid increasing your pet’s stress level as well as that of your guests who may be allergic or uncomfortable around pets, plan to keep your dog or cat in another room or kennel if possible. You don’t need your wound-up dog grabbing a turkey leg out of someone’s hand or your frightened cat scratching a toddler who tries to pick him up. It also keeps him from darting out the door as people come and go. Be sure to spend quality time with your pet once the guests have gone home so he doesn’t think you’re punishing him. 

Exercise Caution in Sharing Food from Thanksgiving Dinner with Your Pet 
You may feel so guilty about separating your pet from the Thanksgiving festivities that you’re tempted to make up her own plate of leftovers. The only food you should consider giving her is a small portion of well-cooked, boneless turkey without any added seasoning. Most other foods commonly served on Thanksgiving are unsafe for pets, including: 

  • Sage seasoning 
  • Grapes 
  • Raisins 
  • Cake batter 
  • Bread dough 
  • Avocados 
  • Chocolate 

Some of these foods will give your pet immediate gastrointestinal problems while others are a choking hazard. Your dog or cat may be so desperate for a taste of what you’re eating that he tries to eat a dropped food wrapper. Make sure that everyone knows where the garbage can is located and that your pet can’t access it to dig for treats.

Contact the Pet Poison Helpline in an Emergency
Some persistent pets may still find a way to eat something they shouldn’t on Thanksgiving Day. If you’re concerned about something your pet has ingested, the Pet Poison Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The telephone number is 1-855-764-7661. 

The entire staff at Battletown Animal Clinic wishes your family a Happy Thanksgiving. 

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Dogs and cats thrive on routine, so it makes perfect sense that Halloween can be a stressful holiday for them. Between the tempting treats, decorations that pique their curiosity, and all the little ghosts and goblins ringing the doorbell, they are better off secluded in a room away from all of the activity. With the door opening and closing so many times, it would be easy for your dog or cat to slip out.
The stress of the evening could even make your normally docile pet snarl at or bite trick-or-treaters. A room with his own toys, bedding, and food would be much more comfortable for a few hours. However, you should still make sure that your dog or cat has a microchip, collar with identification tag, or both.
Don’t Share Candy with Your Pets
Whether you buy in bulk in advance or stop at a convenience store on the way home from work, you’re likely to have a lot of candy in your home. Make sure that you stash this in a pet-proof location and don’t give in if your pet begs while you’re enjoying a Halloween treat. Chocolate and xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugarless candy, are especially harmful for domestic animals. They can cause severe gastrointestinal distress that requires immediate treatment.
We recommend calling the Poison Control Center operated by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) at 1-888-426-4435 if it’s after hours and you’re concerned about something your pet ingested. You can reach our clinic before 6 p.m. on Halloween at 540-955-1151.

Use Caution with Halloween Decorations

Cardboard and candy corn may seem harmless enough, but either of these could get stuck in your pet’s throat or cause an upset stomach if swallowed. If you opt to use light-up decorations, be certain to tape cords to the wall or otherwise keep them out of your pet’s reach. Lit candles inside of a pumpkin aren’t a good idea in any area your dog or cat can reach. It only takes an over-enthusiastic tail wag or swipe of a paw to knock it over and start a fire.

Keep an Eye on Your Pet in Costume

What could be cuter than your dog dressed as Superman or your cat wearing a witch’s hat? While dressing your pet in a costume makes for some memorable pictures, it also requires special precautions. She needs to be able to breathe easily and see clearly without anything blocking her nose, mouth, or eyes. It’s also important to keep in mind that pets are naturally curious about anything you put on them and may try to chew it off. To avoid an emergency on Halloween night, limit the amount of time your pet wears the costume and be sure to supervise her when she does. 

The entire staff at Battletown Animal Clinic wishes your family a happy Halloween. 

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The feline leukemia virus, also known as FeLV, is a virus that causes feline leukemia and other types of cancers in cats. It affects between two and three percent of the cat population, with kittens acquiring it far more often than adult cats. That is because it requires prolonged contact with an infected cat or a bite from an infected cat for older cats to become infected with the FeLV virus. The virus is specific to cats, meaning they can’t spread it to humans or any other species of animal. 

Transmission Methods and Symptoms of FeLV 
Infected cats have large amounts of the FeLV virus in their saliva. That makes mutual grooming unsafe if one cat is known to have the virus. Other common methods of transmission include shared food and water bowls, contact with urine or feces, bites, and nose-to-nose contact. FeLV is most common in kittens because it can be transmitted through the placenta of an infected mother cat and passed along to her offspring. The kittens may also pick up the virus when nursing. 
FeLV causes a range of health issues in infected cats and kittens. These include: 

  • Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Eye diseases
  • Fever
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Infections
  • Immune deficiency
  • Neurological disorders
  • Platelet disorders
  • Reproductive problems
  • Respiratory distress
  • Weight loss

Not every cat who becomes infected with FeLV will become ill. Some have a strong enough immune response to fight the virus off entirely. Others will develop what is known as a latent infection. This means that they are unable to fight off all of the virus but are able to hold most symptoms in check. A third category of cats will become persistently infected with FeLV. Their symptoms are progressive and they will most likely become seriously ill within a few years. 

Age plays an important role in how well a cat’s body can fight off the FeLV virus. Those under eight weeks at the time of infection are much more likely to develop the persistent and progressive symptoms associated with it. 

FeLV Doesn’t Have to Be a Death Sentence 
Diagnosing FeLV typically involves a series of blood tests. Additionally, the American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends testing all cats for FeLV when they are ill, shortly after adoption, when living in a multi-cat household where one cat has already tested positive, and after exposure to a potential risk. Cats should also be tested prior to receiving the FeLV vaccine since cats who already have the virus should not receive the immunization for it. 

With good management by owners, cats with FeLV can sometimes live for many years. They should be kept indoors for their own protection as well as that of other cats in the neighborhood. If your cat has FeLV, it is also important to minimize stress and to disclose the condition to every new veterinarian you visit. 

Please speak to a member of our staff about getting the FeLV vaccine if you feel your cat has several of the risk factors for developing it.


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October is National Pet Wellness Month. This purpose of this awareness campaign is to help pet owners understand the importance of preventive care. Visiting Dr. Henke at Battletown Animal Clinic once a year when your pet is not sick or injured gives him/her the opportunity to check for unknown health issues, follow-up on previous treatment plans, and monitor her weight, growth, and behavior. We recommend bi-annual wellness exams for senior pets due to their changing health needs. If you have a puppy or kitten, Dr. Henke will discuss the preferred vaccine and exam schedule at her first appointment.

How You Can Promote Wellness at Home
Here are several things you can do to promote health and longevity in your pet in addition to regular veterinary care:

• Feed him nutritious food specific to his species and avoid sharing food meant for humans. Train him not to beg for food and don't give in when he gives you sad eyes. Treats are fine as long as you give them in moderation. Manage your pet's weight by making sure that he gets daily exercise and feeding him a set amount at certain times during the day. 
• Care for her oral health needs by brushing her teeth regularly and scheduling a dental cleaning and exam as part of her annual check-up.
• Spay or neuter your pet by six months of age. Not only does this prevent unwanted litters of puppies or kittens, altering a pet helps to decrease uterine and prostate cancer as well as aggressive mating behavior.

We Look Forward to Your Visit
Dr. Henke and the entire staff of Battletown Animal Clinic look forward to seeing you and your pet at her next wellness exam. Together, we can ensure that your pet remains your faithful companion for years to come.