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Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Austin Vet Articles

Enjoy these helpful articles featuring insight shared by our very own Dr. Sarah Kneupper, as featured in the local Oak Hill Gazette.

Understanding Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Month for humans, but due to diabetes becoming more prevalent in domestic pets, we will consider this month a call to action for pet owners, as well.

Diabetes mellitus is the most common form of diabetes in pets, and it can be a difficult and deadly disease. Prevention is possible, and early detection and management are key.

How will you know if your pet is at risk for diabetes? Genetics certainly play a role, with some breeds being more predisposed. These breeds include Poodles, Bichons, Miniature Pinschers, Schnauzers, Samoyeds, Australian Terriers, and Siamese cats.

In reality, many mixed breed dogs are also afflicted with diabetes. Obesity is another important risk factor for developing diabetes, and almost all pets diagnosed with diabetes present to their veterinarian as overweight.Understanding Diabetes in Pets

Symptoms of diabetes in your pet include a significant increase in the following:

  • Thirst
  • Urination
  • Appetite

Pet owners may also notice the following changes:

  • Urinary accidents in the house
  • More puddles of urine in the litterbox
  • Needing to refill the water bowl more often

Since there are other disease processes that can present these symptoms, your veterinarian will rely on a physical examination, bloodwork, and other tests to correctly diagnose. Most pets are middle-aged when they acquire diabetes. Either their body stops producing enough insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels), or the insulin produced is not effective.

Type 1 diabetes is most commonly seen in dogs, and requires lifelong insulin supplementation, usually in the form of twice daily injections under the skin. Cats more often have Type 2 diabetes, where insulin may still be made by the pancreas but is ineffective. Cats are also managed with daily insulin injections.

Another key component of diabetes management is the pet’s diet. A diet low in carbohydrates that is specially formulated for diabetic pets helps keep their blood sugar levels in an appropriate range throughout the day.

When it is not well-managed, diabetes can cause health complications as this disease will make your pet more prone to certain infections and metabolic consequences. Diabetes can be a frustrating disease for pet owners and requires a great deal of commitment, but if it is well-managed both owners and pets can still have good quality of life.

Want to learn more? Call us at (512) 288-1040 or come see us at Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital.

Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital
(512) 288-1040
Sarah Kneupper, DVM

Trick-Free Treat Safety for your Pets

Fall festivities are beginning, and like us, our pets are probably excited for the cooler weather. As we humans make preparations for the large candy-eating fest at the end of October, keep your pets in mind. Many of the delectable treats we consume during and after Halloween can pose life-threatening risks to ousehold animals if ingested.

The most common and often most severe toxicities are produced by theobromine, caffeine, and xylitol.

Theobromine and caffeine are compounds found in chocolate, and many sugar-free or sugar substitute products contain xylitol. Baking chocolate and dark chocolate contain more of the toxic ingredients, but milk chocolate can still have a deadly impact.

Trick-Free Treat Safety for Pets at Halloween

When your pet ingests chocolate, you may begin to see signs of toxicity within one to four hours. Symptoms include the following:

                  • Vomiting
                  • Restlessness
                  • Hyperactivity
                  • Excessive drinking
                  • Urination

As hours pass, more severe signs, such as weakness, diarrhea, seizures, and stumbling will begin to appear. Chocolate toxicity is deadly if not treated, and death may occur as a result of seizures, cardiac disturbances, and/or failure of the respiratory system.

This is why it is imperative to seek veterinary care for your animal as soon as you know (or suspect) they have eaten chocolate. Based on their physical exam and medical evaluation, your veterinarian may induce vomiting to begin the detoxification process, coupled with administration of activated charcoal to further bind, absorb, and eliminate any toxin remaining in your pet’s stomach. Intravenous fluids will further help the detoxification process and can help correct electrolyte imbalances in your pet.

If seizures and/or muscle tremors are noted, the doctor will choose to give your pet anti-seizure medication. While there is no antidote for chocolate toxicity, supportive care is necessary for a good prognosis. Rapid veterinary care after ingestion will likely result in a happy outcome, but if several hours have passed and severe symptoms are present, the pet may die.

Xylitol is a sugar substitute used commonly in sugar-free gums and candies. It is rapidly absorbed by your pet’s body after oral ingestion, and causes severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) approximately fifteen minutes after eating. Low blood sugar is seen symptomatically as weakness, collapse, lethargy, and even seizures. Your pet may have a glassy-eyed appearance and may vomit. Xylitol also causes significant liver damage and even liver failure starting twelve hours after ingestion.

Because it begins to affect the animal’s body so quickly, it is imperative you take your pet to the veterinarian immediately after you realize they ate any substance containing xylitol. Even some peanut butter products contain xylitol. For a more detailed list of xylitol-containing products, check out this website.

Stay vigilant this Halloween and protect your pets from toxicity. What is delicious and safe for us can be life-threatening for them!

Want to learn more? Call us at (512) 288-1040 or come see us at Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital today!

Image Credit: Thanks to our valued client Christine McLean for allowing Bailey to pose for our Halloween photo!

~ Sarah Kneupper, DVM
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital

Is a Laser Declaw the Right Procedure for my Cat?

This article neither recommends nor discourages declawing in domestic cats, but rather recognizes that among domestic cat households, “destructive scratching represents approximately 15% to 42% of feline behavior complaints.” Declawing for many owners presents an option of living with their indoor cat without scratching behaviors. In many cases, declawing is an alternative to surrender and outdoor confinement.

Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital Offers Laser Declaw Services ~ Find out if it's right for your pet

When owners have exhausted other options, such as behavior modification, environmental enrichment, padded nail products, and feline pheromone products, then declawing may be considered. Societal pressures on feline owners often result in a strong sense of guilt when they reach the point of considering declawing as an option. For these owners, the laser declaw is a choice to consider.

Using a surgical laser to remove the ends of the toes, or third phalanxes, results in significantly decreased intraoperative hemorrhage (or bleeding). At AVDH, we have a thorough pre- and post-operative pain management protocol, including local nerve blocks, injectable opioids, injectable non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, along with oral anti-inflammatories to continue administering at home.

After surgery, the cat’s paws are wrapped, and they have an overnight stay at our hospital. The bandages are removed the following day, the paws are inspected, and the pet is sent home with special litter and pain medication for the recovery period. The vast majority of our laser declaw patients at AVDH are walking normally the day after surgery, and some are happily meowing and bounding around so much that we try to restrict their activity!

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) literature review of studies discusses feline declaws and includes studies showing “the frequency of owner-reported complications in patients having undergone laser onychectomy was significantly lower compared to other traditional methods.” Veterinarians, staff, and clients who choose laser declaw will attest to the fact that feline patients are more comfortable sooner with this method of declawing.

Want to learn more? Call us at (512) 288-1040 or come see us at Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital. Contact us if you have any questions regarding this procedure. For further reading resources, please view the AVMA’s cited literature review statement on feline declawing.

~ Sarah Kneupper, DVM
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital


Acute Abdomens Aren’t Cute

It is a common and even daily appointment presentation in veterinary hospitals: the pet with a swollen abdomen. Veterinary professionals know it as acute abdomen. Whatever you wish to call it, the symptoms are alarming and potentially life-threatening. Owners often note that their dog seemed fine until its belly suddenly seemed larger and swollen. Heavy breathing and panting usually accompany the abdominal swelling.

What is the cause? Your veterinarian will seek to answer this question as soon as possible during an initial exam. Bloodwork is helpful, but the use of imaging technology, such as radiographs (x-rays), ultrasound, and even cross-sectional imaging (CT), is key to obtaining an effective diagnosis.

The causes of a swollen abdomen can be quite long and can encompass the following:

                  • Heart failure
                  • Liver failure
                  • Abdominal masses
                  • Abdominal bleeding
                  • Bloated and twisted stomach
                  • Uterine infection (pyometra)

Possible causes of swollen abdomen and belly in pets

Some of these causes can be treated medically, but some require surgery. Ultimately, most of the causes for fast abdominal swelling or bloat in your pet will likely become an emergency, and you should seek veterinary care quickly. Regular exams by your veterinarian coupled with annual bloodwork and imaging can help detect some of these conditions before they progress to an emergent state.

Want to learn more? Call us at (512) 288-1040 or come see us at Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital today!

~ Sarah Kneupper, DVM
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital


Three Simple Ways to Keep Pets Cool in the Summer Heat

Hot dogs belong on the grill, not in your car!

Heatstrokes and heat-related illnesses in pets are very common in Central Texas as the peak summer season arrives. Fortunately, these instances are preventable. Don’t let your dog (or cat) become a hot dog this summer! Please remember your pets can overheat quickly, and the results can be life-threatening.

Keep in mind that pets with certain conditions have an increased risk for heat stroke. Pets that are obese, have heart disease, laryngeal paralysis, seizures, or respiratory disease should be monitored very carefully when outside during the summer.

There are even certain breeds of dogs that are more susceptible to heat-related illness, such as Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Pugs (or any other dog that is classified as a brachycephalic breed). These pets should only be in the direct sun for short periods of time unless water and shade are immediately available.

Environmental factors that create problems for overheating in domestic animals include the following:

                    • Lack of available water
                    • Confinement in a poorly ventilated area
                    • High humidity
                    • Exercise

It is important to understand that pet owners have the ability to control almost all of these factors. Collapse, weakness, stumbling, heavy breathing, and/or a glassy-eyed appearance in your pet after outdoor activity during hot weather means immediate veterinary care is a must. Bring your pet to a cool and well-ventilated area and seek help from the nearest veterinary facility.Keep Pets Safe in Summer Heat

Help keep your pet safe by taking the following proactive measures:

                  1. Limit outdoor time during the summer ~ This means shortening walks and runs or switching exercise time to the early morning hours or late in the evening
                  2. Always ensure your pet has ventilation, shade, and water if outside during the heat of the day
                  3. Never leave your pet unattended in the car

You, the pet owner, have the power to keep your pet from getting heat stress or heat stroke. Take these proactive steps to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort during the hot summer season.

Want to learn more? Call us at (512) 288-1040 or come see us at the cool Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital today!

~ Sarah Kneupper, DVM
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital


Brush Up On Your Snake Smarts

Summer is upon us in Central Texas! With the advent of warmer weather, snakebite frequency in domestic pets increases. Rattlesnake bites are the most severe, and unfortunately, one of the most common snakebites treated by veterinarians in the Hill Country. Since rattlesnake envenomation has great potential to be fatal, it is important to have as much information as possible.

Snake bite severity varies based on several factors. The amount of venom injected in one bite can be quite different based on the age of the snake and time of year. Younger snakes and snakebites that occur earlier in the spring often mean more venom is injected into the victim.

If an animal is bitten more than once, the venom dose may be higher and the reaction more severe.

Bites to the trunk area can carry a poorer prognosis than bites to the face or feet, although facial bites can result in significant enough swelling to render the animal unable to breathe due to airway constriction.

Time elapsed from the bite to veterinary treatment is a critical factor for dogs and cats who have been snakebitten. The quicker veterinary care is received, the better the prognosis for survival.

If you know or suspect your pet has been snakebitten, please immobilize your animal to slow the spread of venom and seek veterinary care as soon as possible. If a rattlesnake bite is known, your veterinarian will begin treatment likely including IV fluids, antibiotics, and antivenin.

Please be prepared for a possible prolonged hospital stay for your pet that may extend to several days. Snakebite wounds can involve extensive sloughing of dead tissue from the site and may require several weeks of wound care by the owner after the pet goes home.

Keep Pets Safe from Snakebites

Help your pet avoid snakebites by staying away from piles of rocks or wood outside, or tall grassy areas. Ask your veterinarian about the rattlesnake vaccine, or call us at (512) 288-1040 for more information.

Can we help you further? Give us a call at (512) 288-1040 or come by and see us!

~ Sarah Kneupper, DVM
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital



Raising Allergy Awareness

Central Austin has the distinction of being named the Allergy Capital of the U.S.A. by many people. For many Texans and their pets, allergy season may seem as though it is year-round! Your dog or cat can be allergic to numerous things, but the most common allergies seen in domestic pets are to food, fleas, or environmental factors, such as pollens and grasses. Some animals may be allergic to stimuli in more than one category.

Different pets and their owners present varying allergic disease scenarios. Many owners are more aware of allergic symptoms in their pet, while some pets have less obvious signs of allergy than others.

Your pet could be dealing with a form of allergy if they are displaying any of these symptoms:

                  • Licking or chewing the paws, belly, groin or rear- end
                  • Rubbing or scooting their rear-ends
                  • Gnawing on forelimbs or hindlimbs known as “corncobbing”
                  • Rubbing their face on the ground or furniture
                  • Shaking head and/or scratching ears
                  • Hair loss, red skin
                  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
                  • Redness around eyes, or increased eye drainage

Traditionally, steroids were the mainstay of allergy treatment. Modern veterinary medicine now offers many more diagnostic options in the way of allergy testing along with new treatment modalities that are as effective as steroids, but safer for your pet!

Pet Allergy Awareness

If your pet is showing signs of allergies, their quality of life may be drastically reduced. Trauma to the skin caused by allergy-induced itch commonly results in secondary bacterial or yeast infections on your pet’s skin. If you feel that your pet is suffering due to allergies, make an appointment to see me at Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital or go visit your current vet! Your furry friend will thank you.

Can we help you further? Give us a call at (512) 288-1040 or come by and see us!

~ Sarah Kneupper, DVM
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital



Clearing up Flea Misconceptions

What you don’t know about fleas may bother you.

 Texas is blessed with many natural abundances, including fleas! Due to the almost year-round warm Texas climate, fleas in our state are active throughout the year. Should your pet also receive flea prevention year-round? Should your pet receive flea prevention medication at all? The flea life cycle will answer these questions for us.

Fleas do not come in only one flavor. In fact, there are many different types of fleas. By far the most common flea affecting our domestic cats and dogs is Ctenocephalides felis, or the cat flea.

Here is his story:

Mr. Flea loves warm weather, humidity, and his host for dinner. Fleas thrive in temperatures from 70-85 °F and relative humidities from 70-85 %. They obtain nutrition and energy from blood meals of their dog and cat hosts. That’s right, when fleas land on your pet, they eat your pet’s blood.

 This blood meal is digested in the flea’s GI tract and is excreted by the flea in the form of black dirt-like material (“flea dirt” is actually flea poop!) Some of the flea poop stays on your pet and may be mistaken for dirt, and the rest of the flea poop falls off of the pet into the environment. The environment includes your sheets, pillowcases, carpet, wood floors, and anywhere else in your home or yard (even if you are a fastidiously clean person).

Only five out of one hundred fleas are adults. The other ninety-five fleas are baby flea maggot-like larvae, eggs, and pupae! These baby flea stages must feed on the flea poop that drops off of your pet into the environment. This means that if your pet is infected with fleas, you are sharing your home (and your bed) with adult fleas, but MANY more “baby” fleas you can’t even see!

Common flea myths that lead to flea infestations on your pet and in your house:

“Fleas are not a problem if my pet never goes outside.”

In reality, people and/or other pets who walk into and out of a residence track in juvenile and adult flea stages from outside.

Fleas aren’t a problem in the winter.”

Unfortunately, much of Texas does not have severe enough winter temperatures for long enough to prevent fleas in the winter season here, so we have fleas year-round.

“I don’t see any fleas on my pet, so I don’t have a flea problem.”

Fleas are small, and immature flea stages are even smaller. If your pet is not on regular flea prevention prescribed by your veterinarian, you and your pet likely have some level of flea infestation.

Importance of Flea Prevention in Your Pets

Besides parasitizing your pet by sucking blood meals, fleas can also transmit many other microorganisms to their hosts, such as tapeworms. Immature tapeworms survive inside the adult flea. When a dog or cat (or human) swallows an infected flea, they become infected with tapeworms.

Now that you are thoroughly disgusted by these disturbing flea facts, please talk to your local veterinarian about what type of flea medication is best for your pet. Your veterinarian can also give you tips to eradicate the baby flea life stages in your environment.

Can we help you further? Give us a call at (512) 288-1040 or come by and see us!

~ Sarah Kneupper, DVM
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital


The Quest for the Perfect Pet Food Diet

Today’s internet and social media are laden with articles and advice regarding grain-free, raw, organic, gluten-free, holistic, home-cooked, and you-name-it diets for our pets. Current trends even imply that commercially prepared pet foods are substandard for your pet, and that the best pet owners only feed their pet this “fill in the blank” pet food. Muddling through all of the information and misinformation regarding this topic can be overwhelming.

What is actually the best food to feed your pet?

Firstly, it is important to recognize that your veterinarian has more extensive training and knowledge about pet nutrition and gastrointestinal physiology than most pet store employees, breeders, online blogs or forums. Ask your veterinarian what their recommendation for your pet’s diet would be, and you will receive the assistance you need to select a diet based on your pet’s health needs.

Here are some basic considerations for pet owners:

What is AAFCO and what do they do?

“The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies.” AAFCO helps establish nutritional standards for pet foods. For more information, visit the Association of American Feed Control Officials at Review the diet you choose for your pet and see if it is formulated to AAFCO guidelines.

Grain-Free: Is it Better?

For pets with a true grain allergy, grain-free diets are very important to help prevent numerous issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, or pruritis (itchy skin). Grain-allergic pets, proven to have grain allergy by allergy testing, are the pets who benefit from a grain-free diet. For the rest of our furry pals, you may be able to save some extra cash by sticking with a quality commercially-prepared diet that includes corn and wheat (these ingredients actually do have nutritional value for your pet in the form of protein and fiber).

Raw Diets: Are they Better?

There are currently no published, peer-reviewed articles supporting any health benefits to raw diets for pets. Published reports do exist regarding the incidence of gastroenteritis and even death in animals consuming diets containing raw meat. Raw diets can also pose a danger to human individuals in the household who may become ill after bacterial cross-contamination. Unless recommended by your veterinarian, commercial diets are a safer option for you and for your pet.

Quest for the Perfect Pet Food Diet

In summary, owners will find that pet food companies that follow AAFCO guidelines, have veterinary nutritionists on staff, and practice quality control methods produce safe and nutritious food for their pets. Commercially prepared pet food companies such as Science Diet, Purina and Royal Canin meet these qualifications. While the latest trends include raw, grain-free diets or home-cooked diets, these foods may not be the best option for our pets. Consult your veterinarian for more information regarding your pet’s specific nutritional needs.

Can we help you further? Give us a call at (512) 288-1040 or come by and see us!

~ Sarah Kneupper, DVM
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital


The Importance of Dental Health

Dr. Sarah asks…Has your pet had an oral exam?

Pet Dental Awareness

Have you ever imagined a place where bacteria thrive in microscopic cesspools and hidden pockets causing erosion, pain, infection and decay? Probably not. What if this place exists in most households, possibly including yours?! Lift your pet’s lip to find out.

Dental disease is one of the most prevalent diseases affecting companion animals. Tartar buildup on teeth and under gums causes bacterial overgrowth and infection. This infection leads to decay of the ligaments that hold teeth in place, causing tooth loosening and abscess formation at the tooth roots. In severe cases, the bones of the jaw and skull can become decayed and compromised. Extreme cases of dental disease can actually contribute to a pet’s preventable death.

Other problems associated with dental disease include tooth fractures and retained baby teeth or improperly aligned teeth. Cats may have even more severe problems associated with dental disease, such as resorptive lesions or stomatitis.

Austin Vet Pet Dental Wellness Importance

Signs that your pet may be long overdue for that crucial dental exam may include:

                  • Bad breath (halitosis)
                  • Eating less
                  • Obvious difficulty eating
                  • Weight loss
                  • Irritability

Proper and complete dental cleanings must be done under anesthesia in order to scale under the gumline, probe for abscessed pockets, and extract teeth if necessary. Many owners are nervous about the idea of anesthesia for their pet. After your veterinarian has examined your pet and completed proper pre-anesthetic testing (such as bloodwork), the relative risk of anesthesia for the specific patient is better understood.

Thousands of pets (yes, even senior pets!) safely undergo dental cleanings every year and are now healthier and happier.

Now you can fully understand the importance of including a thorough oral check with your annual wellness exam. Ask your veterinarian if your pet needs a dental cleaning. If your furry friend’s doctor recommends a dental, please do it for the longevity and benefits to your animal. It will make those sloppy kisses even better!

Call us at (512) 288-1040 to schedule a dental exam today.

~ Sarah Kneupper, DVM
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital


Help your Pet with their New Year’s Resolution!

Gyms will soon be full of well-intentioned folks trying to shed pounds after the holiday festivities. What about our pets? According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 58% of cats and 54% of dogs are overweight or obese (see resource at end of article). If we as humans have New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or tone our muscles, our pets need to do so, too! It may be that if your pet could talk, they would ask you to help them out. Here are some ways you can direct your furry friend:

Dr. Sarah Kneupper New Years Resolutions for Pets

1. Remember that you ~ as the owner ~ control the food source

Key word: quantity. Your pet can only eat as much as you feed them. Weight loss for your pet may be as simple as reducing the amount of daily food intake. Refer to the food label for recommended meal portions, but always check with your veterinarian also. Sometimes feeding by the label recommendation may still be more food or calories than your pet may need.

2. Little things do matter, such as treats!

Pet treats such as Milk Bones, while delicious, are actually quite high in caloric content. Many human foods used as treats can also cause your pet to pack on the pounds. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on healthy and safe human food treats such as carrots or green beans. Careful, some human foods can be toxic to cats and dogs (another reason to check with their doctor)!

3. Diet does matter.

Most pet owners are acutely aware of this fact due to intense advertising campaigns by many pet food companies. The key word here is quality. Proceed with caution: trendy diets or raw diets may not have veterinary nutritionists on staff or be quality controlled by AAFCO standards (see resource at the end of article for more information about AAFCO). This means that these diets could be lacking in nutritional content or be subject to more frequent recalls. Ask your veterinarian what diet they recommend for your pet. Some pets may need a special diet based on a disease process or intestinal issues.

4. Evaluate your pet’s body condition.

This means you can accurately assess your pet based on appearance and feel to help determine whether they are at an optimal weight. There are numerous resources to help pet owners with this, please refer to the AVMA website listed at the end of this article for more information.

5. Exercise is important (along with a good quality diet at an appropriate quantity).

Staying active is as important for our pets as it is for us, but factors such as age and underlying conditions must be taken into consideration. Talk with your veterinarian about what activities and durations of exercise are indicated for your pet.

Can we help you further? Give us a call at (512) 288-1040 or come by and see us!

~ Sarah Kneupper, DVM
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital

About Sarah Kneupper
drsarahDr. Sarah Kneupper, otherwise known as “Dr. Sarah” is a 2015 graduate of Texas A&M University. Dr. Sarah’s strong work ethic and commitment to veterinary medicine make her a natural fit at Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital.
When not working, she and her husband, Brandon, and their son, Josiah, enjoy family time outdoors. Sarah’s hobbies include hiking, camping, water skiing, and scuba diving.

About Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital (AVDH) is a locally owned Austin veterinary hospital with the equipment and facilities of a specialty hospital. We are passionate about veterinary medicine and aim to improve the lives of our patients and their owners.

Routine wellness and preventative medicine are a large part of our practice. However, it is the ability to diagnose and treat the complex conditions and diseases that sets us apart. Clients appreciate our commitment to provide all veterinary services in one location. Relieving pet’s pain quickly and saving the client time are the results of practicing innovative techniques and utilizing cutting edge technology.
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