Category Archives: Newsletter

Feline Annual Exam

  We did it!  We are officially a cat-friendly practice (check it out at:!  And we have the distinction of being the only one in our zip code!  We are proud to hopefully use this designation to encourage more and more cat-owners to bring their cats in at least once a year for an exam.

  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMany people see cats as lower-maintenance than dogs- they don’t have to go outside on walks, they don’t often beg for attention, etc.- and oftentimes this translates to them not being seen by a veterinarian for most of their lives.

    Just as it is in people, the importance of preventative care for pets cannot be overstated.  There are a multitude of issues that Dr. Scarlett can identify during a typical physical exam that an owner may never notice, or that could progress, in the absence of an exam, into a life-threatening illness.  And cats, in particular, are amazingly skilled at hiding illness and injury.

    Think about a dog- constantly rolling on her back for belly rubs, giving kisses, getting ear scratches, shaking paws- there is easy access to most of a dog’s body.  Dog owners can often readily see or feel changes in their dog’s body.  Now think about a cat- does a cat typically want to get belly rubs or give kisses?  Some do, but many appreciate being left alone.

Even before she touches him, Dr. Scarlett can assess a cat with a well-trained eye and start her physical exam: she can see his mentation (is he bright and alert or quiet and uncomfortable), the condition of his fur, his weight and body condition, his gait, and any eye or nasal discharge.  Spending this time observing the cat lets him get used to the new environment of the exam room- the smells, sounds, and sights- before she even touches him.

  Dr. Scarlett then proceeds slowly and calmly to examine his body more closely, looking in his ears, eyes and mouth, listening to his lungs and heart, feeling him all over for lumps and bumps, all the while discussing everything she finds with the owner.  It is a practiced technique perfected to look like just a friendly encounter with a new person.  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

    If your cat is stressed about going into the carrier to come see us, leave the carrier out and open all the time- try to let your cat make the carrier a safe, cozy place.  Keep it in a calm area, spray it with Feliway (feline pheromone), and put in a comfy blanket and some treats.  This can be the most important part of the trip to the vet- starting off calmly sets up the cat for a calm, pleasant visit.

    The bottom line is, we want to see your cat at least once a year.  We want to find potentials issues before they become life-threatening or cost you thousands of dollars to treat.  We will work with you on a plan to make the visit stress-free for both you and your cat.  Stop in anytime for a free “Getting Your Cat to the Veterinarian” pamphlet to help you start down the road to CEVA-Brochurehappy, healthy vet visits!

Cat Friendly Practice

Cat Friendly

  Everyone knows that we are crazy cat people.  We admit it.  Dr. Scarlett, in particular, loves the felines and has 5 of her own (including Charlie).  Jamie has 2 sweet and lovable kitties, Natasha has the famous Ming Ming and I have recently adopted my very first cat ever, Obi Wan, which has been an adventure for him, as well as for me and my dog!

  We can’t believe that it has taken us this long to apply for Cat Friendly Practice certification through the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), but we finally did.

  It is a process that starts with Dr. Scarlett joining the AAFP (I know, seems like she could RUN it, right??).  Then we had to fill out a checklist of all the ways in which we are cat friendly, including having a cat-specific exam room, using Feliway (a synthetic feline pheromone) in areas where cats are examined or hospitalized, practicing cat-friendly handling and restraint, and demonstrating the staff’s feline knowledge base.

    We sent in our application last week, and though we haven’t heard back yet, we are hoping for a Gold Standard status, which would make us one of only 3 clinics in Madison to have earned this highest rating.

    Being a cat friendly practice isn’t all about just loving cats and wanting to cuddle them all day long.  It is about making each visit as calm, comfortable and stress-free as possible for cats as well as their owners, so that we can see our feline patients at least once every year.

  Why no “Dog Friendly Practice certification” you ask?  Because people generally acknowledge the need for annual examinations and vaccinations for dogs, and dogs are generally pretty happy to come to the vet (they are often more food-motivated than cats and we have yummy treats!)

  Annual physical exams for cats are very important to identify potential illnesses or injuries as early as possible.  Pets benefit from preventative health care just like we do!

  Stay tuned in February for another installment all about the feline physical exam.  It may look like Dr. Scarlett is just petting your cat while making small talk with you, but you’ll be surprised how much she learns from her exam and discussion with you!

To learn more about Cat-Friendly Certification, please go to:

American Association of Feline Practitioners

Resolve to Get (Your Pet) In Shape!

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?  You know what I’m going to ask next: how about for your pets?  Is Sophie almost as wide as she is long?  Is it hard to feel ribs on Riley through the fat layer?  Even one or two extra pounds can be too much on a cat or dog.  Obesity is an extremely common problem in pets (some estimates say that more than half the pets in America are overweight), as it is in people, and can lead to a multitude of problems, disease and disorders.Fat cat

The following is a list of some possible problems overweight and obese pets may have to face:

Diabetes mellitus

Heart disease

Kidney disease

Arthritis or other bone or joint diseases

Respiratory compromise

Hepatic lipidosis– “When an overweight cat goes off food or partially off food because of illness or psychological stress, body fat is mobilized to provide calories. Unfortunately, the cat’s liver was not designed to process a large amount of body fat. The liver becomes infiltrated with fat and then fails. A stress that might have been relatively minor, such as a cold, becomes a life-threatening disaster.”1

And finally. . .

Reduced life span– “A study of age-matched Labrador retrievers found that dogs kept on the slender side of normal lived a median of 2.5 years longer than their overweight counterparts.”  2.5 years.

“A common justification for over-feeding treats is that a pet deserves a higher quality of life as a trade off for longevity. While this might on some level makes sense (after all, a pet munching on a treat is certainly getting a great deal of satisfaction from doing so), the other consequences do not make for higher life quality in the big picture.”

If the pet cannot heartily enjoy playtime, or even a quick walk outside without breathing difficulty- is that a good quality of life?  Extra inches of fat surrounding the ribs makes it hard for them to take deep breaths and fully inflate their lungs, resulting in shortness of breath and coughing after even the lightest exercise- sometimes just getting up from a resting position.

And speaking of getting up from a resting position- extra weight puts more strain on the joints, including elbows, knees, hips and the vertebrae in the back and neck.  The extra stress on the joints causes them to degenerate, which results in pain and increases the risk of injury such as ruptured ligaments in the knee, ruptured discs in the neck or back, or fractured bonesFat dog. All of these (possibly preventable) injuries could require surgical correction, which requires anesthesia, which is inherently riskier in the overweight patient and will cost you thousands of dollars and months of your pet’s life spent recovering.

Luckily, all of that pain, stress and financial burden can be avoided!  You can feed your pet less food and treats (including human food), saving you money and keeping her at a healthy weight, and consequently enjoying the extra months spent NOT helping her recover from surgery and all the extra years you will have with her!

Our pets can’t make themselves fat- they don’t fill their own bowls and they can’t open bags of treats- we are responsible.

Are you frightened at the possibility of your pet needing surgery as a result of being overweight?  Bring her in for an exam so we can catch any potential problems as early as possible!

Are you unsure whether your pet is at a healthy weight or tipping the scale a little too far?  Bring him in!  We will get an accurate weight and measure various parts of his body to get a detailed picture of his overall body condition . . . and determine once and for all if he really is just “big-boned.”  Don’t worry- we’ll be honest!

1 All quoted selections from

Allison’s December newsletter

These Dangerous Holidays

  No matter how much we love and adore them, nobody wants to spend time worrying about the health of their pets at this time of the year.  There are decorations to put up, gifts to buy, cookies to bake, and a million other things going on that take our attention away from our pets.  The truth is, the parasites that prey on our furry friends (ticks, mosquitoes, fleas) are dead (we hope), most of us don’t have to think about heartworm testing and prevention yet (though we are still giving our Heartgard every month, right??), and our money and attention is understandably all tied up elsewhere around the holidays.  Preventing possible emergencies and illnesses is a huge part of our goal here at Four Lakes, so please take just one quick second to check this list of holiday hazards for pets during this month:

Food hazards:

Please do not hesitate to call us at: 608-819-6750

or the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435

or the Pet Poison Helpline at: 800-213-6680

if you are concerned about something your pet has eaten.

Onions & garlic can damage red blood cells and cause life-threatening anemia.

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free gum and candy, causes a very fast, very dangerous drop in blood sugar and can be fatal.Orbit

Chocolate contains a stimulant called methylxanthine, which can poison dogs- the higher the amount of actual cocoa (darker chocolate has more), the worse is it.

Yeast dough expands in the warm, moist stomach and cause a blockage that could require surgical removal.

Grapes & raisins can cause kidney failure.

Animal bones, especially chicken and turkey, can block the esophagus or break into shards that can perforate the stomach or intestines, requiring surgical repair.TurkeyWishbone

Animal fat can cause very serious illnesses in pets- remember how small their bodies are compared to our own- a little bit of fat goes a long way toward upsetting the balance of their systems.

Macadamia nuts can cause muscle tremors, weakness and vomiting.

Human medications can cause a variety of mild to severe reactions in pets, depending on the dosage and the amount they ingest- NEVER give your pet any human medication without checking with your veterinarian first.Adderall ambien-generic


Household Hazards:

Decorations & wrappingsRibbon seem very appealing to particularly cats and young puppies and kittens- the ornaments look like shiny balls to play with, tinsel is sparkly and moves tantalizingly in the slightest breeze, and wrapping paper and ribbons are lightweight and fun to bat around.  All of these items are potentially hazardous to your pets- often ornaments are very fragile and could break in their mouths, causing cuts and possibly damaging teeth; ingestion of tinsel, wrapping paper or ribbon could cause particularly serious intestinal blockages requiring surgical intervention.

Plants such as holly & mistletoe can cause stomach upset (vomiting and diarrhea) and lilies can cause kidney failure in cats!MistletoeHolly

Candles are so pretty to have around this time of year, but one errant swish of the dog’s tail or a misstep by the cat, and you’ll have a holiday disaster on your hands- keep the candles up high where they can’t reach!

Rock salt and other man-made products that help clear our walkways of snow and ice can be toxic to our pets.  Pieces can stick to your dog’s paws when out for a walk and when you get inside, he licks and licks at them to remove the tiny pieces, ingesting whatever material you use. Play it safe and use pet-safe de-icing products.

Antifreeze has a dangerously sweet smell and taste to dogs- keep it out of their reach to avoid toxicity!

As much as we love your animals and would love to see you around the holidays, we would hate for it to be due to an injury or toxicity in your beloved pet.  Stop in for fun stuff instead- a homemade, hand-decorated dog treat, a plush squeaky toy or a couple of fuzzy mice for the kitty!



We wish you the happiest of holidays and hope that they are safe and fun for your whole family!